How it works
The social care system
If you need help to live independently your local authority social services team may be able to help.
If you ask your local social services team for help they will do an assessment. Someone from social services will meet with you and ask questions about what you like to do and what help you need. They will write everything down.
You can ask a member of your family or a friend to be there too. Or you can ask an independent advocate to support you. Social services should offer you an independent advocate if you may have ‘substantial difficulty’ taking part in the assessment.
An independent advocate is someone who is separate from social services. They can help you understand what is happening, help you tell social services what you need and make sure you get what you are entitled to.
Care and support plan
After the assessment, social services will write a care and support plan if they decide you need support. This should say what help you need to meet your ‘eligible social care needs’. These are the needs social services must help you with by law.
Your care and support plan should say how much money social services will give to meet these needs. This is called a personal budget.
Paying for support
A personal budget is the amount of money social services will pay to meet your ‘eligible social care needs’. It should be enough to pay for all the help you need that is set out in your care and support plan.
Social services may pay an organisation like Choice Support to give you the help you need. Organisations like Choice Support are usually called 'care providers' or 'providers'.
Sometimes the provider can manage your personal budget for you. You get to choose how this money is spent for your support. This is called an individual service fund.
Social services may give you your personal budget to spend yourself on help and support. Sometimes this is done using a prepaid card or through a direct payment.
You may be asked to pay towards the cost of your support. This will depend on any savings you have and your income.