If you feel you may have social care needs to be independent like needing support from a personal assistant, help from a support worker or help with daily living tasks like cooking or managing finances due to your disability or health condition you should request a needs assessment from your local social services at your local council. The Care Act (2014) states to be eligible the individual must have problems with achieving at least two of these outcomes:
This must have a significant impact on you. They will get a professional like a social worker to do an assessment to see if you have set eligible needs for care and support and if you therefore qualify and can get help based on how you manage these outcomes. If you qualify, they will agree a support plan and give you a personal budget to pay for it.
If you have savings over £23,250 the council will expect you to pay for your own care. If you have saving but less than £23,200 you may be expected to pay something. Often if you get benefits you may also be asked for a contribution towards your support and care needs.
Your Support Plan will determine the types of things you can spend this money on that help you be independent but it could be personal assistance, support workers, someone to help you go shopping, understand bills or help you get out and about or to get healthier like gym membership, it could be something like a phone or alarm to help you stay safe or specialist equipment not available from the NHS. It could be help towards college costs or day centres or help to improve your employability. You could spend some going to the cinema or theatre if in your support plan. It is to improve your quality of life, your daily living and independence like to increase your sport or leisure interests or your personal care needs or for short breaks as you can spend it on service providers but it is not for costs you would have anyway like gas bills or rent or debts. You can not use the money for alcohol, cigarettes or illegal drugs. It has to relate to your Support Plan. It is about you and your needs and aspirations.
If you get a Personal budget you can either for example get the council to look after the money and pay people on your behalf or you can take more control and ask for Direct Payments where you pay people directly. You manage the budget and just report back to the council occasionally. You may for example if agreed in your support plan to hire your own personal assistant to help you with your care needs but this is a reasonability as you then become an employer.
Direct payment links
Easy Heath: Understanding Direct Payments Easy Read http://www.easyhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/Direct%20Payments.pdf
People’s First Info Understanding Personal Budgets and Direct Payment https://www.peoplefirstinfo.org.uk/money-and-legal/paying-for-support/personal-budgets-and-direct-payments.aspx
A look at the Social Care assessment and the different needs of four people who qualify.
Direct Payments and personal Budgets for Social care explained by Birmingham Council
Hiring a personal assistant through direct payments and your personal budget Scope