Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Who is social care for?

Some people need extra care or support, practical or emotional, to lead an active life and do the everyday things many of us take for granted.

You may need social care after an accident or severe illness, as you become frailer with age, or as a young disabled person leaving home.

Social care is not day-to-day medical care at home or palliative care, which is nursing care. It is closely linked with NHS services and your hospital or GP can refer you to social care services.

Social care is means tested so you may pay for some or all your social care costs depending on your income and savings.

Find out about paying for:

Many voluntary organisations (charities for example) provide advice, support and care services. The private sector employs many care workers who provide care via agencies and in care homes.

The government provides different benefits for people with care needs and a Carers Allowance for someone who cares for you unpaid at home for 35 hours or more per week. Most social care is done by unpaid carers – friends and family.

2. Care and support from us

Our overall approach is to help you stay in your own home and be as independent as possible. Of course sometimes people do need to move into a care home or hospice.

If you need social care after a hospital stay you may get up to six weeks of reablement support at home to help you back to independent living. The average is four weeks.

This care is non-chargeable and may include some simple adaptations to your home. If your care continues after a period reablement it will be arranged in the usual way and means tested so you may have to pay some or all of your care costs from that point onward.

A few people will need high levels of social care and will move into a care home, which is a means tested service. Options will be discussed with you and your family.

As you get older you may need help with everyday tasks. Have a chat with your GP who can refer you for help. Local voluntary organisations or your faith group may also be able to help or make a referral on your behalf.

A few simple adaptations to your home can make a big difference, for example grab rails or a raised toilet seat. You may benefit from a visit from an occupational therapist or an assessor who will arrange for any necessary adaptations or equipment.

Equipment can be loaned free of charge, but there may be a cost for adaptations. You can also buy gadgets and equipment online or in specialist shops.

We also provide care and support for adults with learning disabilities. The level of support someone needs depends on the individual.

For example, someone with a mild learning disability may only need support with things like getting a job. Someone with a severe or profound learning disability may need full-time care and support with every aspect of their life.

3. Assessment: If you think you might need social care

A social worker or an assessor will speak to you on the telephone to discuss your care and support needs. If you struggle to make decisions about your care and support, the social worker or assessor may also complete a mental capacity assessment.

If you don't have access to a personal support network then the assessor may request an independent advocate to support you.

If you would benefit from an assessment, the social worker or assessor will discuss your resources and needs with you (and those who care for you) and then advise on any care and support planning.

This will take into account any current personal support network (friends, family or neighbours). They may also suggest alternative ways to meet your care and support needs, for example, online shopping if you struggle to get to the shops.

Care and support can take many forms, including care in your own home through an agency (Home care), or through a direct payment option which allows you to employ a personal assistant to care for you.

If you can no longer live at home, you may need to move in residential/nursing care or supported accommodation such as sheltered housing or extra care housing.

If you need residential or nursing care, we will always aim to place you within the borough. However, this may not always be possible either because of limited space in care homes or because of the complexity of your needs. A social worker or assessor will discuss your options with you and your personal support network.

All of the services we arrange are means tested.

If your finances are clearly above the means test limit, you or your family must make your own care arrangements by contacting care agencies yourself. We can help you make these arrangements if you are not able to do this yourself or with family support. If your finances are below the means tested level, you will be asked to complete a full financial assessment.

It will take a few weeks before we can tell you how much you will need to pay for your care and support. In the meantime, we will arrange your care. You will be billed later if you have to make a contribution.

If you have to pay part or all of your social care costs you will get sent the bill in arrears (which means after the care has been received).

We aim to review your care needs and financial assessment once a year.

4. Overview of the care and support process

Step 1

Look through the adult social care pages for information about services available locally to support you.

Step 2

If you want to discuss your situation, contact us - see the next section.

Remember, social care organised by us is means tested, so you may have to pay for some or all of your social care costs depending on your income and savings.

Step 3

After an initial discussion, there could be a social care or an occupational therapy assessment. This will be about understanding what matters to you and connecting you to others, based on your assets and strengths, those of your family, neighbourhood and community.

Step 4

If you're eligible for care and support from us, we'll work with you to develop your care and support plan.

You'll also need to complete a financial assessment to determine what, if anything, you need to pay towards your care.

Step 5

Services will be arranged or you can receive a direct payment to arrange your own care and support.

Step 6

We'll review your situation every year, unless your circumstances change.

This is to check if your care and support needs have changed and that the services you are receiving are still the best way of meeting your needs.

5. Contact us

If you need to speak to Adult Social Care call us 020 7926 5555.

You'll need to give your:

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth.

You'll also be asked for information to enable us to put you through to the correct team.

You can also email adultsocialcare@lambeth.gov.uk.