Social care can be very different from the health care you receive from the NHS. Although it can include medical help, social care offers more practical support to enable people to live independently.

These services are usually provided in people’s homes, care homes or elsewhere in the community rather than at a GP practice or hospital.

If you or a loved one needs social care, it’s important to understand what types of care and support are available, where to find the correct information and how to fund services.

How do I receive help through social care?

The first step is to contact Birmingham City Council Adult Social Care department and request an assessment.

If you need social care for yourself, Birmingham City Council call this a ‘conversation’. A social care worker will talk to you about your situation and discuss options for support. There is no charge for an assessment.

If you provide unpaid care for someone else, your assessment is called a ‘carers assessment’. A social worker will work with you to find the support that is available to help you. There is no charge for this assessment.

Alternatively, you may be offered a care assessment at home after being discharged from the hospital, called a ‘discharge to assess’ or a ‘home first’ approach.

The NHS can also assess people with very complex and long-term health needs for social care support, known as ‘NHS Continuing Healthcare‘ or ‘NHS CHC’, and involves a separate assessment process from the needs assessments carried out by local authorities.

Who can access adult social care support?

If you’re an older person, living with a disability, have a long-term condition, or recovering from hospital, you may require social care services. All adults over 18 are entitled to an evaluation to determine whether they could qualify for help or support. You can have a free assessment to determine your eligibility for support.

If you have family or friends caring for you, you may not have to pay for services. Additionally, carers can also receive support for their wellbeing and training. Once you qualify for aid, the council can help you create a personalised plan that meets your specific needs.

How do I pay for social care?

A ‘financial assessment’ or ‘means test’ will determine whether you qualify for free social care or need to contribute towards the cost of your care.

The criteria used in means tests are complicated and involve the local authority looking at your ‘financial assets’.

Find out more about financial assessment (means tests)

Some people can also qualify for free social care through NHS continuing healthcare. However, if your assessment finds you are not eligible, you might be eligible instead for ‘NHS-funded nursing care‘, where the NHS will contribute to the cost of your nursing care, for example, in a care home.

The organisation Beacon provides free independent advice on NHS continuing healthcare.

Unpaid carers do not have to contribute towards the support services they access following an assessment. You can find more information on Birmingham Carers Hub.

What type of support is available through social care?

The council is responsible for managing social care services in Birmingham. The council may provide some services themselves, or they may buy services from care providers to meet the needs of their community.

Local services can include:

  • Support to help people develop the skills needed to live independently. Sometimes these services are referred to as ‘reablement services’ or ‘short-term support’. They can involve help with doing certain activities again after illness or injury.
  • Support with getting up in the morning, washing, dressing and using the toilet. These services are known as ‘personal care’.
  • Help with household tasks like cleaning, cooking, eating or shopping.
  • Support with organising physical, leisure or social activities. These services are called ‘daycare services’ or ‘daycare opportunities’. They can involve serving meals or refreshments, helping with health issues or providing an opportunity to meet and chat with others.
  • ‘Respite care’ or ‘carers breaks’ provide opportunities for unpaid carers to take a break from caring. During these breaks, the person being cared for would have their care needs met by different carers, sometimes in a different location for a few hours, an overnight stay or even longer.
  • Support finding housing for people affected by homelessness who have care needs following a needs assessment.

Domiciliary care and residential care

Some people receive social care in their own homes, such as having regular visits from carers to help with things like medication and household tasks. This is called domiciliary care. In some cases, people might have ‘live in’ carers who stay overnight.

If people are not able to be cared for in their own home, they can move into a care home or nursing home instead. This is called residential care. Find out more about care homes.

Where can I find more information about social care?

Birmingham City Council has a dedicated information and advice service which can provide people with details about local social care so you can make well-informed choices and plans based on the help you need. You can also find more information on the Connect To Support website.

Information and advice services will provide more information on:

  • Assessments and eligibility.
  • Personal budgets.
  • Choosing the right care option.
  • Safeguarding.
  • Independent advocacy.

Adult social care

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