Dementia, social services and the NHS

Living with dementia can be challenging and stressful. But there is support available from the NHS and your local council to help you and your family.

The support and care you may need is organised by the NHS and the adult social services department of your local council. Services provided by charities are also important.

Even if you feel you don't need support now, it's a good idea to know what's available and plan ahead.

Social services support for dementia

The adult social services department of your local council can help with your personal care and day-to-day activities.

For example, social services may offer to provide:

  • carers to help you with washing and dressing
  • laundry services
  • meals on wheels
  • aids and adaptations
  • access to day centres

Social services can also give you information about local services and support, much of which is provided by charities, such as the Alzheimer's Society and Age UK.

It's a good idea to find out if you do need help by getting a needs assessment from social services. This assessment could identify needs you may not have considered.

A needs assessment is free and anyone can ask for one.

If the assessment shows you need help with everyday tasks, a person from social services will discuss this with you, and a relative or carer. Together you can agree a joint plan of needs and how these will be met.

The next step is a financial assessment (means test) to check if the council will pay towards the cost of your care.

How to get a needs assessment

If you haven't already had a needs assessment, contact social services at your local council and ask for one.

Ideally, this assessment should take place face-to-face. It's a good idea to have a relative or friend with you, if you're not confident explaining your situation. They can also take notes for you.

If the needs assessment identifies you need help to cope day-to-day, and a joint plan is agreed, you will then have a financial assessment (means test) to see if the council will pay towards the cost of care. In most cases you will be expected to pay towards the cost.

Find out more about a needs assessment

NHS support for dementia

NHS help for dementia includes the treatment you receive from your GP and hospital. It can also include other types of healthcare, such as:

In some parts of the country, the NHS provides Admiral Nurses in partnership with the charity Dementia UK.

Admiral Nurses are NHS specialist dementia nurses who will visit you to give practical guidance on accessing services as well as offering emotional support. Find out more about Admiral nurses and how they can help.

NHS continuing healthcare

If you have complex health and care needs, the NHS may cover the cost of all your care at home or in a care home, including the services you receive from the local council. This is called continuing healthcare and is funded by your local clinical commissioning group (CCG).

A diagnosis of dementia doesn't necessarily mean you will qualify for NHS continuing healthcare. This depends on how complex and severe your needs are.

To qualify for NHS continuing healthcare, you need to be assessed by a team of healthcare professionals. To request an assessment, contact your local clinical commissioning group (CCG) and ask for the NHS continuing healthcare co-ordinator.

Find out more about NHS continuing healthcare

NHS-funded nursing care

This is similar to NHS continuing healthcare but applies to people who are in a nursing home. If you are eligible, the NHS will pay for your nursing care.

To qualify for NHS-funded nursing care, contact your local CCG and ask for the NHS continuing healthcare co-ordinator.

The Department of Health has produced a booklet, called NHS continuing healthcare and NHS-funded nursing care (PDF, 113kb), for people who may need NHS continuing care, and their families and carers.

Get help and advice

Getting help and support from local councils or the NHS can sometimes feel very difficult and complicated.

If you need help, consider using an advocacy service.

An advocate can help you express your opinions and wishes, help you with assessments and ensure that your rights are respected.

Find out more about advocacy services

Charities and voluntary organisations provide valuable help and advice on their websites and via their helplines:

Page last reviewed: 24/07/2018
Next review due: 24/07/2021