Care Eligibility for Council Support
Determining who may be eligible for help from Council Social Services is not easy. Local Authorities have to set priorities because they do not have enough money to help everyone in need, and will set these priorities based on an assessment of what the person needs help with, their ability to pay for themselves, and a consideration as to who else may be able to provide the help required.
In doing this Councils have to use a framework set down by government – the Fairer Access to Care Services (FACS) criteria, and we would suggest you take a look at these. This is based on the seriousness of the likely consequences if help is not given. This is an assessment of risk therefore, ranging from a risk to life to a risk that someone will not be able to continue to maintain their involvement in a particular club which they get a lot of benefit from. FACS sets out 4 levels of risk – called “Critical, Substantial, Moderate, and Low” All Councils have to use this is as the basis for their decisions, but can set their own threshold e.g only provide services for people where the risk has been assessed as “Critical”. Only two Local Authorities currently provide support where the risk is assessed as “Low”, and relatively few where the risk is assessed as “Moderate”.
A lot of the terms used in FACS are open to a considerable amount of interpretation e.g. it talks about “vital” social support systems being maintained, which can be very difficult to agree upon. Also no one can be sure what the consequences for any individual might be of not receiving any help.
This makes It difficult to generalise but the risk is likely to be related to the individual’s particular disability and individual circumstances. For example on the whole the inability to carry out personal care tasks is likely to be seen as presenting a greater risk to a frail older person than their inability to sustain meaningful employment, whereas for a younger person with a learning disability the latter may be seen as far more significant. Councils however cannot use different criteria for different needs groups in the population.
Eligibility can only be determined based on an assessment, where individual circumstances will be compared to the criteria. Everyone has a right to ask for such an assessment. If as a result of this, risk is assessed as below the threshold than would trigger Council-funded support, then the person concerned should still be given and advice and support as to how they can go about meeting their own needs.
Eligibility for support in general is not the end of the story. There are lots of different ways the Council can help depending on the specific circumstances of the individual eg help with employment, equipment, aids and adaptations to the property, enabling people to call for help when needed, support for carers, activities during the day, providing care in people's own home or finding somewhere more appropriate to move to.
Even where the Council feels that the risk to the person is such that they have to provide some services, the individual will still have to undergo a financial assessment to see if they can afford to pay for any of the services required themselves. The Council will also be interested to see if an unpaid carer, such as spouse or adult child, can provide some or all of the support required, as long as the carer themselves can get some support.
The assessment itself is free, and there are also some services that the Council may provide that are not chargeable or are subsidised. You should not therefore be put off asking for an assessment simply because you feel it is unlikely that you will pass the financial assessment test.
To find out whether you, or the person you care for may be eligible for support in your area take our Wizard.