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 adult social care 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 need care and support.

They must do a needs assessment even if you don’t have an autism diagnosis and even if you don’t seem to have high support needs. That means that is doesn’t matter what your IQ is, whether you have other disabilities or not, or whether services are likely to be provided to you – 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.

There is no time limit for your local authority to do the needs assessment.‎ If you haven’t had a reply within six weeks, contact them to find out what is happening. 

They should ask you whether you prefer English or Welsh from the start. Your language preference should not delay the process.

The assessor

The assessment can be done by one person alone, as long as they don’t need specialist advice to work out whether you are eligible for support.    

The location

A social worker or a community care officer will usually visit you at home to do the assessment. Sometimes they might want to do it over the phone or online, but they have to think about whether this makes it harder for you to take part.

If they don’t offer you a home visit, but you think you need one, tell the local authority why. For example, you could say that the difficulties that you have are clearer face-to-face, or that you would like a family member or advocate to be there to help explain your difficulties to the assessor.

If you do not have mental capacity, t‎hen a face to face assessment should be arranged.

Having someone with you

You can have a family member, friend or advocate with you during the assessment.

If you have a carer, your local authority should involve them in the assessment, as long as you are happy with this.

If you can’t take part fully in the assessment without help from someone else, and there isn’t an appropriate person who can help you, your local authority must provide an advocate for you.

The questions

The assessment looks at what you can do, and what you can do with the help of friends and family. You might want to write down all the areas that you feel you need support with before the assessment.

The assessment should be proportionate to your needs. This means that your local authority might not have to do a full assessment. They must focus on your well-being and on the things you want to be able to achieve (your personal outcomes).

The assessment should assume that you are the best person to judge your own well-being and they should listen to what outcomes you would like to achieve. This is called being person-centred and social services have a duty to work in this way.

More about needs assessments.


Not everyone who has a needs assessment will be entitled to get support. Your local authority will help you to get support if your assessment meets all 4 of these conditions.

  1. Your needs are to do with age, disability, dependence on alcohol or drugs, or other similar circumstances.
  2. Your needs are to do with being able to take care of yourself (eg washing, cooking and cleaning), to work or study, to have a social life and involvement in your community, or to take care of a child. Or your needs are to do with communication or protecting you from abuse and neglect.
  3. There is no way of meeting your needs with the support of family, friends, community or your own resources.
  4. There is no alternative to the local authority providing care and/or support either directly or through a direct payment.  

The code of practice says that you don’t have to have tried to use services available in the community to know that they can’t meet your needs. The social worker must show you the service and record how it can meet your needs before deciding that you are not eligible for local authority support.

If your carer says that they can and will meet your needs, the assessor could decide that you aren’t eligible for local authority support. This could limit your right to choose who cares for you. To make sure that all your eligible needs are identified, your informal carer could wait until an eligibility decision has been made before they confirm that they are willing and able to help care for you.

If you are not eligible

If your needs don’t meet the eligibility criteria, you won’t get care and support services from the local authority. Social services must write to you and let you know that you aren’t eligible, and why.

They should tell you how to get ‘preventative’ support services, such as befriending or social groups. They might refer you to their information, advice and assistance service or to a community-based service. They must record how your needs will be met by preventative and community-based services.

The local authority doesn’t have a duty to meet needs that they can’t support, such as access to healthcare, housing or education.

Find local support groups and projects.

Planning your support

If you are eligible for support, social services should develop a care and support plan with you. The plan will say how your needs will be met.

If you have been assessed as needing a service, then the local authority must arrange this. You might have to wait a short time for your support to start. You have a right to complain if you have to wait a long time (eg more than 6 weeks) without getting any services.

In urgent cases, or of you are at risk of abuse or neglect, social services can put support in place without an assessment being completed or while the assessment is taking place.

More about support options and care and support plans.

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 a significant change, eg your carer wants to go back to work.

Your local authority should not take away your support, or make big changes to it, without doing a full review of your care and support needs first. If they decide that you no longer qualify for local authority support, they should give you information about other help available.

In doing the review, social services are not allowed to aim to reduce your support for no reason or aim to save money.

Paying for support

You might have to pay for the services you get.

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.

How much you pay will depend on your income and savings. There is a maximum weekly amount you could be charged for non-residential support.

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 get direct payments, you must use the money to pay for the support your assessment said you need. Here are some examples of what you might use direct payments for:

  • a personal assistant to support you at certain times or with certain tasks
  • someone to support you on holiday
  • family member or a friend (usually, this mustn’t be someone who lives with you) to offer you support rather than a care worker from an agency.

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

If you have very complex ongoing healthcare needs, you might be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare funding. Your social care needs would be assessed and fully funded by the NHS alongside your health needs.

More about direct payments and employing personal assistants.

Support for your carer

If you have a carer, they have the same right as you do to a needs assessment and a support plan if they have eligible needs. Your carer doesn’t need to be providing regular and substantial care to be entitled to a carer’s needs assessment.

Your local council should offer your carer a needs assessment as soon as it realises that they need support. For most carers, this is when the cared-for person’s needs are assessed or reviewed.

A carer can have a carers assessment even if the local authority have assessed the person they care for as not being eligible for services, or if the person they care for doesn’t want their needs assessed.

More about carers assessments.

If you don’t agree with something

If you disagree with your local authority’s 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 withdrawn, you can challenge their decision.

Complaining about social care services.

Other types of support

Transport and car costs

Adapting your home

Support and social groups

Further information

ASD Info Wales

Codes of practice and statutory guidance

Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (Easy read)


Get benefits and care advice

Last reviewed November 2017