If you are retired or disabled and find it hard to get around or find it difficult to cope with household tasks you may be able to get help and support from your local authority the NHS, voluntary organisations or private agencies.
Your local authority social services department can help arrange services to ensure older people can stay in their own home. They can provide assistance with:
- Bathing and washing
- Preparing meals
- Getting in and out of bed
- Cleaning your home
- Installation of equipment like, hand rails, bath seats etc.
Your local NHS Authority can provide help with:
- Medical equipment-special beds, wheelchairs and other specialist medical equipment.
- Continence equipment and advice
- Occupational therapy
Private care agencies provide services such as personal care, cleaning and shopping.If you decide to opt for private care then you will have to pay the full costs of these services. Your local social services department can provide you with a list of approved private care companies.
There are many voluntary services who offer help with gardening, providing meals, home visits, transport and escort services. These are organisations like Age Concern and WRVS. Their contact details can be found in the telephone directory or can be provided by social services.
How do You Get Help?
If you feel you need help from the NHS or social services then you should ask for an assessment of your needs to be made. Contact the organisation and tell them you’d like an assessment, they will arrange for someone to come and discuss your specific needs – there is no charge for this service.
This assessment might be done by several people such as a social worker, occupational therapist, nurse, and possibly even a housing officer if you have special housing needs. It may be beneficial to have friend or a relative with you when the assessment is done as they can remember some important details that you may forget to mention. Give the person doing the assessment as much detail as possible, even if you think it’s not that important.
Depending on how urgently you need help, you may have to wait a while for an assessment to be made.
What Help Will You Get?
Once you have been assessed you will be given a care plan. This will explain to you what services you are entitled to and how the care will be provided. There are a few different ways that your needs can be met – the local authority can:
- Provide services directly
- Arrange for services to be provided by private agencies or voluntary organisations.
- Or you could be offered “Direct Payments” This is where the local authority will give you cash payments so you can manage and organise your own care.
Direct payments are given to anyone who is disabled or over 65 and have been assessed as needing Care in the Community. You can then use this money to employ your own care worker or buy any equipment you may need.
If you are looked after or helped by a family member, then they may qualify for payments as a carer. They should ask to be assessed separately and their needs can be assessed whether the person they care for has been assessed or not.
The kind of help and support a carer may get includes:
- Help with household tasks and activities for the person you care for.
- Breaks from caring
- Emotional support from other carers.
If you are disabled you may be able to obtain grants to repair your property or adapt it to meet your needs.
The local authority can limit the amount of help they will provide to no more than the cost for them to pay for a place in a care home. For instance if it would cost the local authority £300 per week to provide a place in a care home they can limit the package of care in your home to £300 worth of services.