Your guide to care and support

What social care services are available?

Many people's first impression or thoughts of social care might be a residential care home. In fact, there's a wide variety of social care services available and most people will be able to have care provided in their home.

The kind of social care support you can get depends largely on your needs. This means the type of health problem you have, or the severity of your disability. For example, if you have trouble walking, you may simply require some equipment to help you remain mobile and independent. But if you get a health condition that seriously affects your mental capacity or your ability to move and look after yourself, you're likely to need a much wider range of social care services.

It is worth taking time to think about your specific needs and what you think you might need to help you achieve the best quality of life you can.

Care and support services might typically include:

  • equipment
  • help in your home 
  • community support and activities
  • day centres
  • home adaptations
  • residential care
  • financial support
  • information and advisory services
  • advocacy
  • support for carers

Equipment to keep you independent

You can often stay independent with simple tools or pieces of equipment, such as a jar gripper (to help you remove lids) or ways to raise your seat (so that you can get up more easily).

Equipment can also help with bigger issues, for example, hoists to help you get on and off chairs or toilets, or in and out of the bath or bed.

You may also be able to have monitoring devices that check whether you have left the house. These are useful if you have a health condition, such as dementia, that causes confusion and wandering. Find out more in alarms and telecare.

Help in your home

You may want to have someone who can come to your home and give you the support you need to live your life. This can include help with tasks such as getting dressed, help with using the toilet, washing, preparing and eating food, cleaning and laundry, getting out and about, and taking part in leisure and social activities. Find out more about homecare.

The Money Advice Service has a useful guide to employing a carer or personal assistant.

If you're unable to manage in your home, even with help, you may need to consider moving to a care or nursing home.

Your local authority can tell you what services are available in your local area.

Community support and activities

Some social care services can be provided to help you continue to play an active role in your community and to get out and about and do the things you want to do. For example, you may want to work or take part in religious or cultural events such as a festival or a sports match. Social care services may be able to support you in a wide range of ways to enable you to continue to do these things, for example a community transport service.

Your local authority will be able to provide you with information and advice on what services are available in your local area.

Day centres

Day centres provide meals and an opportunity to socialise and do activities that might not be available at home and may provide respite for family carers.

Your local authority can tell you what services are available in your local area.

Adaptations to your home

If you have difficulty living at home because of your health condition, it's often better to improve your home instead of moving somewhere new.

Depending on your health condition, you might be able to get lowered kitchen surfaces and storage, wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs or walking frames, or improved flooring to prevent trips and falls.

Your local authority can tell you what services are available in your local area.

Residential care

If living at home is no longer a realistic or practical option, you may want to consider residential care. There are many different types of 'residential care' – it may mean a permanent move into a care home for older people, or it could be a stay in a home for younger adults with disabilities, or a home for children.

Residential care may be privately owned, or run by a charity or the local authority. The main types of residential options are:

Deciding on a long-term stay in residential care is a significant decision financially, practically and emotionally. You need to think about your preferences and decide what services will meet your needs now, as well as being flexible enough to take account of your future care needs. It is not always an easy decision.

Your local authority will be able to give you details of information services they commission locally. Many local and national charities will also be able to provide information and advice.

Help with paying for social care services

You may be eligible for certain financial benefits for daily living, or you may be able to get funding from charities to cover the costs of expensive equipment. Your local authority should be able to advise you on the help available to cover additional living costs as part of your social care assessment.

Find out more about how to fund care.

Getting help and advocacy

People who need care may have difficulty exerting their rights, getting the services they need and are entitled to, or simply knowing what's available. Information and advice are often a key part of any care assessment that your local authority undertakes.

Charities are a great source of social care information – particularly those associated with certain health conditions, such as the Alzheimer's Society, Mind, or Scope, but also those related to different aspects of care, such as Carers UK or Independent Age.

Some people find that an advocacy service can help them exert their rights, particularly if you have a disability and you believe you are treated unfairly. An advocacy service can act as a champion to ensure you get fair and equal treatment and access to services. Find out more about advocacy.

Support for carers

If you look after a person who is disabled, has a long-term health condition or is elderly and frail, you are a carer. Carers can get help with their caring role, and by enabling the person they care for to get the support they need, they can make their own life easier. For example, it's important that carers have time for themselves, and one of the best ways to arrange breaks from caring is to ensure that you have had a carer's assessment. This will help identify how substantial and demanding your caring is and how much support you're likely to need.

NHS continuing care

If you have care needs relating to an ongoing health condition, consider whether the NHS can offer any treatment, medical equipment or support that can help you live more fully. Read more about NHS continuing care.

If you are looking after a child with a disability, you should also consider the support that your child will need with their education. Again, talk to your local authority to discuss the types of support you might be able to get.

Help for children with special educational needs

If you're looking after a child with a disability, you might want to consider the support that your child will need with their education. Talk to your local authority to discuss the types of support you might be able to get.

Page last reviewed: 10/01/2018
Next review due: 10/01/2021