Your guide to care and support

Your right to social care and support

If you think you need social care support, you will need to think about what type you need – be it homecare workers, equipment or respite breaks.

Your first step to getting this sort of help should be to ask your local authority social services department for a needs assessment. This will help you decide on the type of services you may want as well as helping the local authority understand which services you need.

Your local authority may be able to offer you some care services free of charge. It's worth finding out if you can get free services because the cost is likely to be high if you have long-term care needs, and they could increase as you get older. For more information, read about funding your care.

Picture of a social worker signing to a child Credit:

Disability Images / Alamy Stock Photo

How to get social services from your local authority

Local authorities have a duty to assess anyone who appears to have care and support needs. Your local authority should:

  • give you a care needs assessment and advice, whatever your financial circumstances
  • provide information about services and support options available in your area
  • give you a carer's assessment if you're an unpaid/family carer

The assessment by the local authority is important because it helps work out what your difficulties are and what services will help you most. For more information, read What social care services are available?

Next steps after a care needs assessment

After the care needs assessment, if your local authority decides you're eligible for social care support, it will carry out a financial assessment to work out how much, if anything, you will need to pay towards your care.

After this, if you're eligible for care and support, social services or an independent adviser will work with you to create a care and support plan.

Often, only minor support is needed – such as meals on wheels and help with washing or dressing – yet these services could make a big difference to your life.

If you feel your needs have changed over time, you can request a review of your care plan, or a reassessment if you were not originally eligible for care and support. Contact the social care team at your local authority to discuss this.

Your social care rights

Under UK law, you should be looked after and treated fairly and with dignity whenever you are given social care services. This applies to everyone, regardless of where they're given care and who does the caring.

You're also protected from discrimination because of who you are. For example, being an older person shouldn't stop you from receiving similar treatment to a younger person.

If you feel you are being unjustly treated in breach of your rights, you can act by:

Find out how the Equality Act and the Mental Capacity Act protect your rights to be treated fairly, and make your own decisions wherever possible.

When things go wrong with social care

At times, things may go wrong with your care. You may find you:

  • disagree with a decision about your care
  • disagree with the outcome of an assessment
  • believe standards or quality of care have been poor
  • believe the amount of care has not been enough
  • believe the costs of care are unfair
  • feel that staff have behaved badly or inappropriately

However, you should be actively involved in the care and support process – for example, during the assessment, and in developing the care and support plan.

The local authority must attempt to reasonably agree any course of action with you and anyone else you request. Make the local authority aware of anything you are not happy with during these discussions.

How to give feedback on care services

If you've been using homecare services, a care home or a nursing home, you can leave positive or negative feedback on the service. These comments will be publicly available on the service's online profile, and it will be asked to respond publicly to the comments.

However, if that doesn't get a satisfactory result, you can make a formal complaint.

By law, whoever is providing your care services will have a complaints procedure available. This should be your first step in trying to address what has gone wrong. Friends and relatives may be able to help you with a complaint – as can Citizens Advice and many other charities.

If you have been seriously abused, call the police. You may want to speak with the "safeguarding" team at your local authority.

If your complaint is about a private or voluntary care provider, contact the Care Quality Commission.

For more information, find out how to make a complaint.

Media last reviewed: 19 Aug 2016

Media review due: 19 Aug 2019

Page last reviewed: 05/02/2018
Next review due: 05/02/2021