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Living with a terminal illness and looking for support? Our Support Line team are here to help. 

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Social care and support from your council

Social care and support is available from your local council if you have care needs and can’t meet the costs. The way social care is handled is changing in England and Wales. These changes might affect you if you’re terminally ill, disabled or a carer.

About social care

Social care is for people with a disability, who are over 18, and need of support or support with everyday tasks like:

  • getting out of bed
  • getting dressed
  • cooking and eating
  • seeing friends and family
  • caring for others (eg, toileting and showering).

Social care is also available for children, but it’s provided slightly differently.


From April 2015 there will be changes to the way social care services are delivered in England. This will include stronger rights to support carers. These changes are happening under the Care Act 2014, which only covers England and social care for adults.

The Children and Families Act 2014, which only applies in England, covers young carers and parents caring for children under 18. 

The Care Act 2014


There will be changes to how councils assess adults and carers. Councils must assess adults if they appear to need care and support, and carers if they have a need for support. Assessments can be carried out by a range of professionals, including registered social workers, occupational therapists and rehabilitation officers. Assessments can also be done by phone.

The Act also states that local councils can fast track assessments for people who have a terminal illness, but don’t have a legal duty to do so. You can ask your local council to fast track your application and assessment for social care.

People who pay for their own care

The Act affects people who pay for their own care. It brings them into the care system so that a local council’s duty to provide information, advice and social care assessments applies to them too. It also sets out a new way of paying for care, with a cap on the care costs a person has to pay.

With the cap, the most someone pays toward their social care costs should be £72,000. After they’ve paid that amount, social care services shouldn’t charge them for any further services it provides. This cap has been delayed until 2020. 


The Act increases the rights of carers in the social care system and gives them a clear right to receive services, such as respite care or equipment to help with day to day caring.

Portability and continuity of care

This is how councils transfer responsibility for the care and support of a person when they move from one area to another. If a person getting social care is moving to a different council area, the two councils have to arrange it so that all necessary services will be ready for the person on the day they move. The new local authority must carry out an assessment of the person and their carer before the move and agree what services will be provided.


Councils have to put in place services that will prevent people developing serious care and support needs. This may include services that help with:

  • finding out who may be at risk of conditions such as stroke
  • identifying carers so they can be supported
  • preventing or delaying people’s needs from getting worse.

Information and support

Councils must, by law, provide information on what care and support services are available, how people can access them, how to get financial advice about care and support, and how to raise concerns about the wellbeing of anyone with care and support needs.


The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 aims to improve the wellbeing of people who need care and support, and carers who need support, in Wales. It also aims to improve access to information and focus on prevention and early intervention. You can find out more about this on the Welsh Government website  .

Northern Ireland

Getting help and support in Northern Ireland usually begins by asking for an assessment of need from your local health and social care trust  . This should lead to a care plan to get you the services and support you need, or to direct payments so that you can choose and buy the services yourself.

See the nidiect website   for more information.


In Scotland social care services departments are known as social work departments. Asking for an assessment of need and getting a care plan to provide a range of services and/or direct payments is similar to that in the rest of the UK. There are two important differences in Scotland:

  • There are other options   as to how social care is delivered
  • If you are 65 or over and get personal care or personal support care at home, you should get this free of charge.

Paying for social care services

Councils can charge for care services. Some local authorities only charge for some services, for example, meals on wheels or home helps.

If you live in Scotland, are 65 or over, and get personal care or personal support care at home, you should get this for free.

Useful links

Advice NI   – Care Act 2014 

National Assembly for Wales   
SCIE   (the Social Care Institute for Excellence)

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