About social care

If you or someone you care for has MS, you may be entitled to support and services to help you lead an active and independent life.

Social care is the support you can access outside of the NHS. It is provided by your local authority and can include information and advice, equipment, someone to help you in your home, residential care and support for carers.

Social care services are changing quickly, with a much greater focus on offering people more of a say in the support they need. This approach is sometimes known as personalisation  or self-directed support.

Find out more about:

Care Act 2014 (England)

The Care Act will introduce measures to improve the care and support system for people affected by MS, including carers having a right to an assessment of their needs and a cap on the costs that people have to pay for care in their lifetime.

It has been referred to as the biggest ‘overhaul’ of the care and support system in the past 60 years.

The Care Act is being introduced in 2 parts. From the 1 April 2015 the Care Act will introduce:

  • national eligibility criteria for local authorities to assess whether someone is entitled to care and support
  • new rights for carers
  • deferred payment agreements to pay for care

From April 2016, the Care Act will introduce a ‘cap on care costs', which will limit the amount a person will have to pay towards their eligible care and support needs.

For more information on how the Care Act will affect care and support in your area, contact your local authority

Find out more about the Care Act 

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Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act 2014

The Social Services and Well-Being Act is one of the largest pieces of law to be passed by the National Assembly for Wales and will transform how care and supports for adults and children is delivered.

For the first time, there will be separate Welsh law around social services, changing the way that eligibility systems and safeguarding for the most vulnerable is structured.

The changes will be introduced gradually with the first phase beginning in April 2016 (one year after changes in England).

We will continue to update these pages as each phase is rolled out.

Find out more about the Social Services and Well-Being Act at Gov.uk

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Accessing social care

To access social care services, you first need to contact your local authority for an assessment of your needs. You can find the details of your local authority’s social care services department from the telephone directory, library, GP surgery or online.

How you are assessed will depend on your local authority, but all local authorities must publish information on how they assess your needs. You can ask them to send you a copy, find it on their website or read it at your local library. Or you can find your local authorities contact details online

>> Our guide for local services.

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The assessment of your needs

To decide if you are entitled to any support, your local authority will carry out an assessment of your needs. The results of this assessment will be used to create your care and support plan.

In England your local authority must also consider whether your needs fluctuate and how this impacts on the overall level of care and support that you need. 

See Paying for social services for more information.

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Preparing for the assessment

To receive support, you will have to show your local social care services what you need help with. You can seek advice and support before your assessment to help you prepare.

There are local organisations of disabled people and centres for independent living that provide support services. Your local authority may also be able to suggest support groups for you to contact.

Before your assessment, you might want to think about:

  • what you would like to do but can’t
  • how much help you need and how often
  • how you would like the help to be provided

You may find it useful to keep a diary prior to the assessment to keep a record of what you do and what you would like to be able to do if you had the relevant support.

Making a note of how often you do certain tasks and those that you struggle with can give you an overall idea of the sorts of help you feel you need, making it easier to explain things to social care staff when they visit.

When you write down your needs, remember:

  • If you need help with something, say so. If you can do a task, but it is a struggle, make that clear, even if it is a task you can manage.
  • Don’t underestimate the time something takes – if you are not sure, then time the activity – be honest, if it takes an hour to have a bath, then put down one hour.
  • Think about the fact that things might take longer on a bad day. If it does, say so.
  • Don’t think just of the ‘essentials’, such as getting up, getting food, going to bed. You are entitled to ask for help so you can visit friends and family, have a social life, look after your children, go to the pub, attend an educational course and whatever you would do if you had support to help you do it.
  • Don’t assume social workers have a good understanding of MS, or how it affects you. You might have very different needs to someone else with MS, and you are the expert in your situation.

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Carers’ assessment

If you have a family member or friend providing care, they are also entitled to an assessment by the local authority of their needs as a carer. Some carers provide care for a few hours a week, others for 24 hours a day, every day. A carer does not have to be living with you. The assessment of the carer’s needs would state whether the carer:

  • is still willing and able to carry on caring
  • has any family responsibilities
  • works or wishes to work
  • is taking part in, or wants to take part in, education, training or leisure activities

The assessment may look at ways to support your carer through providing care for you. For instance, you may buy respite care to give your carer a break from their caring role.

Find out more about carers’ rights and the Care Act

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Care and support plans

Your care and support plan (sometimes known as a care plan or a support plan) is your guide to what money, services or equipment it was agreed you need in your assessment.

In England, you can choose to create your care and support plan yourself, helped by friends and family, or you can ask your social worker to do it for you. It can be a written plan, or, if you struggle with writing, you can create a plan using video, audio or pictures.

Following the introduction of the Care Act (England), local authorities should also ensure that care and support plans take account of fluctuating needs and should say what plans are in place for any sudden changes or emergencies.

For more information about care and support plans, see our booklet Getting the best from social care services

In the rest of the UK, your local social care teams will put together a package of support for you. They will discuss your needs with you to create a care plan.

The plan will also include how much money the local authority is paying towards your services you.

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Page last updated: 13 Apr 2016

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