Most of us are used to receiving health services from the NHS – by visiting our GP or dentist or going to hospital.
Some people who have health needs may also have social care needs. If you are in need of social care support for the first time, it can be confusing trying to understand who is responsible for what care, what services you are entitled to and what has to be paid for.
The National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare define health care and social care needs as:
Social care needs are directly related to the type of welfare services that local authorities have a duty or power to provide. These include:
If you need routine health care services (such as visiting your GP), you will access this in the normal way.
If, however, health and social care services need to decide who is responsible for your care, then your care requirements will need to be assessed. This could be, for example, if you are being discharged from hospital and are unable to return home or need some support to return home. See our information page about Hospital stays.
The two services will need to decide whether your primary needs are health care needs or social care needs.
Simplistically put, healthcare is free (paid for by the NHS) and social care costs are met by the individual (or the Local Authority if the individual’s finances fall below the means-testing threshold).
For your care to be fully funded by the NHS (known as NHS Continuing Healthcare), your primary need must be a health care need.
If you are not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, you may be referred to your local authority to see if you are eligible for help from them.
If you still have some health needs, then the NHS may pay for part of the package of support.
If your primary need is a social care need, and you are eligible for services from your local authority, the local authority will be responsible for your care. You will then have a financial assessment carried out to find out what you may need to pay towards the cost of your care.
For further information, see our Paying for care page.
Health and social care professionals are increasingly working together to help people in the community with a range of needs. If you have both health and social care needs, you may be looked after by an “Integrated Care Team” (ICT).
ICTs focus on maintaining the health and wellbeing of people in their community. They include staff from social, community, mental health, primary care and some outreach services provided by secondary care.
Who are in ICTs?
Who do ICTs support?
Each team develops individual care plans with the patient and their family.
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Page Reference: Health and social care roles explained