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Last updated: April 2024

This section covers how Local Authorities (LAs) can meet your care and support needs, and gives some useful links.

Adult social care for someone with SMA could offer support with tasks such as:

  • transfers (e.g. to bed, onto the toilet)
  • personal care (washing, dressing)
  • eating.

LAs should also be funding community access to aid independence.  This includes making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community. Examples are being able to access and use public transport and recreational facilities or services. However, please be aware that access to and delivery of social care may vary depending on where you live in the UK.

In this video, Emma talks to Jack and Becca about getting the most from your personal budget:

To find out you will have what is called a Social Care Needs Assessment. This is undertaken by an assessor, usually a Local Authority Worker. They will work out if you are eligible for this support.

The eligibility threshold that all LAs must apply to your assessment are set out in The Care Act 2014:

1. Your needs must be caused by physical or mental impairment or illness. You should not need to give a formal diagnosis of your SMA

2. Because of your needs you are unable to achieve two or more "specified outcomes".

Unable means:

  • you cannot complete task(s) without assistance, significant pain, distress or anxiety or
  • you would endanger / be likely to endanger your health / safety or that of others around you or
  • the task(s) take you significantly longer than would be expected.

Specified outcomes mean that you need to meet two or more of the following outcomes:

  • Managing and maintaining your nutrition
  • Maintaining your personal hygiene
  • Managing your toilet needs
  • Being appropriately clothed
  • Being able to make use of your home safely
  • Maintaining a habitable home environment
  • Developing and maintaining your family or other personal relationships
  • Accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering
  • Making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community including public transport and recreational facilities or services
  • Carrying out any caring responsibilities you have for a child

3. Therefore, because you cannot meet at least two of these specified outcomes there is, or is likely to be, a significant impact on your personal wellbeing.

Wellbeing: this describes your:

  • dignity (including being treated with respect)
  • physical and mental health
  • emotional wellbeing
  • protection from abuse and neglect
  • control over day to day life.

Your assessor should consider how long a task or activity takes and the impact this has on you. This will help them to to establish the significance of the impact of your disability on your wellbeing.

Find the details for the Local Authority in your area.

Once you find the website for your Local Authority, there will be contact details for you to email or phone to make a referral to Adult Social Care.

Once you have made a referral, the local Adult Social Care department for your area will get in touch with you. They will arrange to come and visit you at home to complete your Social Care Needs Assessment.

Every LA is different, so the length of time you may have to wait before you are seen may vary. It is always worth asking about waiting times when you make a referral.

The Adult Social Care Needs Assessment is about identifying and meeting needs. It is not age, condition or disability-focused. It is about providing evidence of your needs and looking at how best to meet them.

Assessments must take into account:

  • Your wishes and preferences
  • The wishes and preferences of any other person you wish to be involved (for example your partner or your informal carer)
  • The complexity and severity of your condition
  • Any day to day changes(fluctuations) in your level of needs.

The Local Authority (LA) should consider how best to complete the assessment to support your ability to contribute.  For example, let your LA know if you think it would help to have several visits. Tell them if you think these should be at different places and at different times of the day.

Your views and the views of those around you are important for building a picture of your daily life for the assessor. They will want to know about your coping strategies and any support you receive from professionals, organisations or your local community.

You may want to gather information from the professionals and any others involved in your care and support. Each one can provide evidence of your needs based on their own area of expertise and knowledge.

Some people find it helpful to keep a diary detailing what help they need for each daily activity:

  • what the help is
  • when it is given
  • who gives it
  • how often
  • for how long.

You can download a diary template.

At your assessments or support planning meetings, your LA must involve:

  • You
  • Anyone else you ask to be involved
  • Your unpaid informal carer if you have one

If you have a lot of difficulty being involved in your assessment and planning, the assessor can arrange for support. This will be from an appropriate individual who can  ensure your views are heard. This might be a healthcare professional who knows you well. If there is noone appropriate, they must engage a Care Act Advocate to support you.

If someone has particular communication needs because of their disability,  the LA must make sure they receive:

  • information in a way they can understand and access
  • any support they need to communicate.

Even if you do not have a lot of difficulties being involved in the assessment, you have the right to have another person with you at any of the visits.

You can have your Personal Assistant / carer at the assessment with you. Your PA / carer is likely to know and understand your needs and how these impact on your wellbeing.

You will have a Financial Assessment as part of the process and according to your finances. You may be asked to contribute towards your support. You will be able to find out more about Finance and Benefit Assessments on your local authority website.

After the assessment process, you should be given a written copy of your assessment. If you have been assessed as being eligible for care and support, you will be offered a Personal Budget. Your LA should work with you to put together a Care and Support Plan. This details the help you need and who will support you.

You can choose to receive your personal budget to either:

  • enable the LA to provide a package of care for you. They will source the Personal Assistants / carers and pay them directly on your behalf (sometimes called a managed personal budgetor
  • you can choose to have direct payments. This is when you recruit and employ your own personal assistants (PAs). You run your own pay roll account. You control how your PAs support you

Different options suit different people in different situations. It is worth asking what options are open to you and researching the pluses and minuses of each.

Some LAs offer additional options to the two above. Your LA should be able to offer advice and information on all their available options. This should include where you can receive help and support with setting up a direct payment, running your own pay roll account and recruiting PAs. They should help you to help you decide what is right for you.

You can find more information at:

NHS.UK: Personal Budgets and Direct Payments

Citizens Advice: Direct Payments

Disability Rights UK: Personal Budgets

There is related information under the tab Employing PAs on this page

When you have your Social Care Needs Assessment, anybody who provides unpaid care and support to you is entitled to a Carer’s Assessment by the Local Authority.

For more information:



Support to enable you to work should be considered during a Social Care Assessment. This is detailed in the Care Act section about accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering.

Access to work is a scheme that offers support to disabled people in paid employment. It makes sure you are not disadvantaged when doing your job. It ensures your employer makes reasonable adjustments for you in the work place. Examples are providing equipment or flexible working hours. If you are eligible, the scheme may offer a grant to support your needs in the work place.

You can find related information in: Access To Work & Reasonable Adjustments in this section.

When you study at university and live away from home, your care should be funded by the Local Authority where you are ‘ordinarily resident’. You will still need a Social Care Needs Assessment or, if you are already receiving a care package, you may need a review of this to make sure it will meet your needs while you are studying.

If you meet Continuing Health Care (CHC) criteria and already receive CHC funding at home, this should continue at university.

You can find related information in: University, Higher & Further Education in this section.