You might need support in your daily life, such as help with taking care of yourself, going shopping, visiting the doctor or looking for work. You may also like support to meet up with friends, take part in your hobby or have a holiday away from your family.

Your local social work department can help you to work out what you need, and might be able to help to arrange the support. You might have to pay for some of the support.

Get information about needs assessments, paying for support and support for carers. You can also find out how to make a complaint, about community care for children, and where to get advice.

Needs assessment

Your local council must do a needs assessment if they know or think you might need care and support. Even if they think you are unlikely to get support services, you are still entitled to an assessment.

Your local authority's website should tell you how to apply for a needs assessment. You could use our letter template to ask for an assessment.

If your needs aren't urgent, you may have to wait for a few weeks for your assessment.

A social worker or other care professional will usually visit you at home to do the assessment. You can have a family member, friend, carer or advocate with you during the assessment, if you want to. They'll talk to you about what matters most to you and what help you need to do those things. This is called being person-centred. They’ll also talk to you about any risks to your wellbeing if you don't get the right support now.

More about needs assessments.


Not everyone who has a needs assessment will be entitled to get support.

If your needs don’t meet your local authority’s eligibility criteria, you won’t get care and support services from the local authority. They must write to you and let you know that you aren’t eligible, and why. They should also tell you about where else you might get help, and about their complaints procedure.

Find local support groups and projects.

Planning your support

If you are eligible for support, your social work department should develop a care plan with you which sets out how your needs will be met. The plan should include:

  • what your needs are and any related risks
  • what services you would prefer
  • a plan in case of emergency
  • details of services you will be getting, any charges or if you will be getting a direct payment
  • any care your carers are willing and able to provide
  • a date to review the plan.

You might have to wait some time before you start getting support services. If your needs change while you're waiting, get back in touch with the social work department. You have a right to complain if you have to wait a long time without getting any services.

Find out about different support options.

Reviewing your support

Your local authority must review your support at least once a year to make sure that it still meets your needs. They should also review the plan if you tell them that there has been an important change, eg your carer wants to go back to work.

Paying for support

You might have to pay for the social care services you get. How much you pay will depend on your income and savings.

The local authority must work out what services you need before doing the financial assessment. This is so that your ability to pay doesn’t influence their decisions over what to provide.

If you’re aged 65 or over, and have been assessed as needing personal care (eg help with bathing), you won’t be charged for it.

More about the financial assessment.

Direct payments

If the local authority is going to fund some or all of your support, they will arrange services for you. If you want, you can ask them to give the funding to you, or your carer, as a direct payment instead. With direct payments, you will be able to choose what, how and when support is provided, and who provides it. This is called ‘self-directed support’.

If you are assessed as having healthcare needs as well as social care needs, a joint funded package from social care and the NHS can sometimes be provided.

More about self-directed support, direct payments and employing personal assistants.

Support for your carer

If you have a carer, they are entitled to a carer’s assessment. A person is a carer if they give you substantial and regular care and are not paid for it. After a carer's assessment, the council might offer your carer some support. The council can’t charge your carer for this support.

More about carer’s assessments.

If you don’t agree with something

If you disagree with a decision not to pay for your care services, or you don’t think you’ve been offered enough support to meet your needs, or a service has been stopped, you can challenge their decision.

Complaining about social care services.

Making decisions

If you aren’t able to make some, or all, decisions independently, someone else can help you to manage your money or care arrangements.

More about managing someone else's affairs.

Other types of support


Adapting your home

Support and social groups

Transport and car costs

Further information

Care Information Scotland

Social care legislation in Scotland


Get care advice

Last reviewed December 2017