How can social services support someone with dementia?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia you probably want to know what support you might be entitled to from social services, either now or in the future. Find out what could be on offer – and how to get it

In a nutshell

People with dementia generally receive help from two places; the NHS and social services. Whilst NHS care is generally free for everyone, (including nursing, community nursing and hospital care) the support you get from social services might not be completely free because it’s means-tested. But you won’t know for sure unless you’ve had an assessment.

Did you know? Social Services is sometimes divided into children’s services and adult services. For any query relating to dementia, you need to contact adult services.

Your Social Services Checklist

1. Find the phone number

Then add it to your contacts book– you might need to use it quite a lot.

2. Ask for an assessment

If you’ve been diagnosed with dementia, you should receive a community care assessment. If you haven’t had an assessment yet, phone your local social services department and ask for one. If you’re caring for someone with dementia you should have a carer’s assessment. If you haven’t, call social services to arrange one. A social worker should then contact you to sort out an appointment.

3. Read the care plan

Once the assessment is completed you should be given a care plan detailing what help the person with dementia needs and how the help will be provided. If you do qualify for free help you should also be offered the option of having a personal budget.

So what can social services offer?

A wide range of support could be available to make your life easier. For example, help with washing and dressing, meals on wheels or frozen food delivery, shopping, cooking and cleaning. You can also get help with taking medication, managing money, paying bills and claiming benefits. You might even find you’re entitled to free equipment and adaptations to make your home safer.

People you might come across

Social workers
This is the person most likely to carry out your assessments and who can make all the arrangements for your care and support (which might sometimes be carried out by a different organisation). They might also be called a care manager or a case manager.

Care workers
This is the person who comes into your home to help you with tasks outlined in your care plan. If you need help dressing, cleaning or shopping, they will assist you. Care workers have many different names, including home care worker, personal assistant, social care worker and carer. If your care assessment reveals that you need this kind of assistance you should be provided with it by social services, but it won’t necessarily be free of charge. Your income and savings is likely to be taken into account and you may have to pay for some or all of this care yourself.

Occupational therapist
If you think you might need any special equipment or adaptations to make your home more dementia-friendly, an occupational therapist can offer advice. Some occupational therapists are employed by social services and others are employed by the NHS so it’s worth asking your social worker or GP how you can access their support.

Tip: Community health specialists and community or district nurses are employed by the NHS not social services, so ask your GP about what help they can provide.

Good to know

A social worker can also help you work out what benefits you might be entitled to, and if you don’t qualify for free help they can still tell you about services you could access. Social services should also be able to give you a list of local registered private agencies if you’d prefer to go down that route instead.

When dealing with social services

  • Be patient. If you have a query or problem you might have to repeat your story several times before you get the right help from the right person, but persistence usually pays off.
  • Be organised. Keep copies of forms, letters and any other information you’ve already been given.
  • Be positive. You might be pleasantly surprised by the variety of help on offer and the quality of the information and support you can access.