If you are finding it difficult to manage living at home, it may be possible for you to get help to stay in your home and to have your home adapted for your needs.
Care and support assessments
Ask for an assessment of your care needs to be carried out by the social services department of your local council.
You can also ask your GP to make a referral to social services to have a needs assessment.
Deciding what help is needed
Once social services have assessed your needs and made a decision about what help you are entitled to they must draw up a care plan for you.
You are entitled to a written copy of your assessment and care plan. Ask if you don't receive one.
What kind of care at home is available?
Care at home can include:
- adaptations and special equipment to help you with your daily life, such as a raised chair or bed, or equipment to help you get in and out of the bath
- home helps to assist with general household tasks
- personal care to help you with personal needs such as washing and dressing
- meals on wheels if you have difficulty cooking for yourself
- access to lunch and social clubs
- access to a day care centre
- respite care to allow you and your carer to have a rest from each other
The services you receive may be provided by the council, for example, by social services, the housing department, the health service or by other agencies.
Following an assessment of your care needs by social services, they tell you if you are going to get care at home. Depending on your circumstances, social services may decide that you have to pay for some of the help you receive.
Nursing care at home
Some people with acute and complex medical needs are entitled to have the full cost of their care (including care provided in their own home) paid for by the NHS. This is called 'NHS continuing healthcare' funding. If you think you may qualify, ask your GP, hospital consultant, district nurses team or other medical professionals to arrange an assessment.
Get advice if you are not satisfied with their response, or you disagree with the decision made. Use our directory to find a local advice centre. NHS continuing healthcare funding is not easy to get but getting help from an adviser may increase your chances of a successful assessment or appeal.
Paying for care at home
Depending on your financial circumstances and the council's charging policy, you may have to pay for some of your care at home. Some councils have standard charges for some of their services, such as home help.
Social services decide how much to charge after looking at your income and savings. You do not have to reveal your financial circumstances to social services, but if you don't they may assume that you are able to pay any costs yourself.
Direct payments from social services
If social services are going to fund all or part of your care they usually have to offer you the choice of direct payments.
If you choose to have direct payments, social services give the budget for your care package to you or sometimes to your carer. You or your carer are then responsible for arranging your care.
This arrangement can give you more choice and control over services provided but also brings with it responsibilities for spending the money in line with your care plan. If you employ a care worker you will also have the legal responsibilities of an employer.
Financial help from disability benefits
If you have a chronic illness or disability and need help with daily living (eg: cooking, cleaning, bathing or budgeting) or with getting around you may be entitled to one of the following benefits to help with the costs:
- attendance allowance - if you are aged 65 or over
- personal independence payment (PIP) - if you are aged 16 to 64
- disability living allowance (DLA) - if you are under 16 or claimed DLA as an adult before 8 April 2013
These benefits are not means-tested so you may get help regardless of other money you have coming in.
An adult who is providing you with care for more than 35 hours a week can claim carer's allowance. In some cases this can affect your benefit entitlement. Contact a benefit specialist about what would be best in your situation.
Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your local area.
Housing benefit if you have an overnight carer
If you rent your home and claim housing benefit the amount you receive should not usually be reduced if you need care and support at night and your carer has a bedroom available for their use.
This applies if your carer is:
- an adult in your household unless they are also your partner
- someone who stays overnight regularly to provide you with care but whose home is elsewhere
- part of a team of carers (paid or unpaid) who provide you with overnight care on a rota basis
If your carer is also your partner who lives with you then they are not entitled to a separate bedroom under the housing benefit rules but you should be able to apply for discretionary housing payments instead.
Get advice if you need care at night but are struggling to pay your rent.
Financial help with adaptations
You may be able to get a disabled facilities grant for certain adaptations to your home if you cannot afford to pay for these yourself.
If you are in rented accommodation you will also need the permission of your landlord.