Types of social care

There are many types of support available from local authorities, and different ways to organise care. The choice will depend on what you need and your personal preferences.

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Social care services are changing quickly, with a much greater focus on offering people more of a say in the support they need.

In England, increasingly people will be offered personal budgets which allow a great deal of freedom for someone to spend their own care budget in the way that best helps them. In Scotland the equivalent is called Self-Directed Support, and in Wales as Citizen Directed Support.  

Find out more about personalisation on the National Centre for Independent Living website 

Direct Payments

Direct Payments are cash payments given by Local Authority Social Service Departments to people who have been assessed as needing community care services. People receive cash for the services they need instead of receiving services directly from the local authority.

Many recipients use their payment to employ a personal assistant - meaning they also take on legal responsibility of acting as their employer.

By receiving money instead of a social care service, people are able to make their own decisions about how their care needs are met and how services are delivered.

You might use Direct Payments:

  • To help you do your shopping or to pay someone to do it for you.
  • To pay for some care while your carer has a break.
  • To provide your own care via personal assistants or an agency
  • To employ a relative to help you as long as they are not living with you.
  • In Scotland you may be allowed to employ a close relative, provided the Local Authority is satisfied that this is necessary to meet your need for the service. For more information on direct payments in Scotland visit www.selfdirectedsupportscotland.org.uk.

You can decide at any time that you don't want to get Direct Payments any more, and would rather have services arranged for you.

Find out about direct payments for carers

Personal budgets

Personal budgets are allocated to individuals assessed as needing care from their local authority. You and your social worker agree a Support Plan. This looks at outcomes - what you would like to achieve - rather than simply focusing on how the money is spent.

For example, you can use it to pay for something such as gym membership - provided that it is helping you to achieve the outcomes agreed in your Support Plan.

Find out more about personal budgets on the Department of Health website

Home Care

Local authorities can arrange for someone to come to your home to provide you with help and assistance with personal care tasks, such as getting out of bed, shopping or laundry.

This assistance is usually provided by a local care agency. The local authority will tell the agency what times and days you need assistance and the agency will send one of their workers to help you at those times.

Day services

Some local authorities provide day centres which people can attend on certain days of the week. If you are eligible to attend a day service, the local authority will arrange a visit to the centre so you can decide if this is something you want.

Short breaks (respite care)

If a friend or member of your family provides you with regular assistance, the local authority may offer you respite care - providing the care you need while the person who cares for you has a break.

Find out more about short breaks

Residential care

If you have high care needs, the local authority may suggest that your needs would be better met in residential care. You have the right to ask for your needs to be met in your own home if that is what you want and it is practical to do so.

Find out more about residential care

Equipment and adaptations

Social care services can also fund specialist equipment and small adaptations to your home (up to £1,000), if you have been assessed as needing them. Examples of the type of equipment they might pay for include hoists, bath seats or specialist cutlery.

Small adaptations might include installing grab rails, or ramps. 

Find out more about equipment and adaptations

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Page last updated: 23 Dec 2013

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