Most people would, understandably, prefer to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible. Before residential care options are considered, it’s important to find out what help you may be entitled to from your local authority to enable you to stay at home.
Broadly speaking the range of issues that local authority social services departments can assist with are: -
• Equipment and Adaptations.
• Alarm systems.
• Day care.
• Personal care.
• Home help and domestic assistance.
• Direct payments.
• Personal budgets.
• Meals at home.
• Respite care.
Local authorities individually set eligibility criteria; the rules identifying the services they will provide for different levels of need. So as a first step, if you think that you may qualify for assistance, you should check with your own local authority to find out what their eligibility criteria are.
Someone in need, for example an elderly person, will almost certainly be entitled to an assessment to establish their needs and to provide a care plan. Sometimes support can be provided without the need for assessment if services are required urgently. Under section 47(1) of the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 it is provided that “nothing in this section shall prevent the local authority from temporarily providing or arranging for the provision of community care services for any person without carrying out a prior assessment of his needs in accordance with the proceeding provisions of this act if, in the opinion of the authority, the condition of that person is such that he requires those services as a matter of urgency”. This can, in certain circumstances, be useful to know.
Advice may also be required if you have a carer. Under the Carers and Disabled Children’s Act 2000, carers have the right to an assessment of their own needs even if the person cared for does not want one. A carer in this context is someone who provides “substantial and regular” care under the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995. It does not include those who provide care on a professional basis.
If you are not satisfied with a care assessment or are unhappy with a decision that has been reached by a local authority, you can make a complaint through their complaints procedure. Every local authority must have a designated complaints officer who can provide you with further information about the complaints procedure. This can be a daunting process and free legal advice may be available to you (depending on your means) if you need help under the Legal Help scheme.
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