Introduction to care and support
A quick guide for people who have care and support needs, their carers, and people who are planning their future care needs.
This guide is for people who have care and support needs, their carers, and people who are planning their future care needs.
What is social care and support?
They're services to help you if you:
- need practical support because of illness or disability
- care for someone receiving social care and support
Social care and support is usually paid for by:
- people who need services and their families
- by the local council's social services department
Types of social care and support include:
- help at home from a paid carer
- meals on wheels
- having home adaptations
- household gadgets and equipment
- personal alarms and home security systems so you can call for help (for instance, if you have a fall)
- different types of housing, such as supported living services and care homes
Find out about different care services, equipment and care homes.
If you want advice or help by speaking to someone over the phone, you'll find lots of helpful numbers and links in our section on telephone helplines and forums.
Getting access to social care and support
You can arrange care and support privately yourself.
If you want the council to arrange or pay towards your care, you have to get a needs assessment.
The needs assessment tells you what type of care will help you and how it'll be delivered to you.
If you have a carer, they can also have a carer's assessment.
Paying for social care and support
Paying for care and support can be confusing and a worry.
For clear advice on how much care and support costs, and where you can get help with the costs, read our section on money, work and benefits.
As a general rule, if you have less than £23,250 in savings and investments, your care will be paid for partly or in full by the council. From October 2025 this will rise to £100,000 in savings. This does not include the value of your property unless you're moving into a care home. Read more about when the council might pay for your care.
If you have more than £23,250 in savings (or £100,000 from October 2025), you'll be expected to pay for your own care.
Some services are free for everybody. They're not means-tested. Read about care and support you can get for free.
Help for carers
You probably are a carer if you're looking after someone regularly (including your spouse or a family member) because they're ill or disabled.
Popular topics include:
- Benefits for carers
- Practical tips if you care for someone
- Carers' breaks and respite care
- Help for young carers
In some situations, social care and support is provided by the NHS instead of your local council. In these instances it's free. It's not means-tested.
- up to 6 weeks of care after illness or hospital discharge, known as reablement (this service can also be provided by local councils)
- care if you have complex and serious health conditions (NHS continuing healthcare)