Arranging health and social care

To receive health and social care support or services, you'll need an assessment of your needs. Following an assessment, you might be entitled to home care, equipment or adaptations to your home or direct payments to buy services you need.

Health and social care assessments

A health and social care assessment with the social services department of your local trust is often the first step towards getting the help and support you need. The assessment is an 'assessment of need'.

Your assessment and care plan

At the assessment, a specialist - often an occupational therapist - asks you about your individual needs to identify the right support for you.
You may need:

  • healthcare
  • equipment
  • help in your home
  • residential care

The assessment should show which needs are most important. It should also show the risks to you if you were not given any help.

Health and social services teams can put together a support package for you. They will discuss this with you and write a care plan. This may include services from both private and voluntary organisations.

If you need other services such as housing or benefits advice, they'll put you in touch with relevant local services.

Services and support you may be entitled to

Services can include:

  • home care help with cleaning and shopping
  • disability equipment and adaptations to your home
  • day centres to give you or the person who cares for you a break
  • day care for your child if either you or they have a disability
  • residential care or nursing homes

Direct payments

If you're assessed as needing help from social services, you may be able to get direct payments to choose and buy those services. Instead, you can get the services directly from your health trust.

Being reassessed

Most people's health and social care needs change over time. Your care plan should be reviewed regularly.

Reviews should take place at times or intervals set out in the care plan or at any other time deemed necessary.

If you would like to be reassessed because your needs have changed, contact your local trust.

Care needs assessments where you live

You can find out about health and social care needs assessments in your area.

Adjusting to disability

Becoming disabled through illness, injury, accident or a worsening medical condition can affect many areas of someone's life. You may need to see specialists at different stages before and after your diagnosis.

Your local doctor (GP)

Your GP will be central to much of the health support you receive. You may be treated for a progressive illness (something that develops over time or in stages) or for a sudden disability caused by, for example, an accident.

Some doctors and consultants specialise in certain conditions and disabilities at hospital and clinics.

Health and social care support

Becoming disabled means you may need support from health and social care services for the first time. A health and social care assessment with your local trust is the first step.

You may be entitled to a package of support which could include home care help, disability and/or health equipment and adaptations.

You may also be entitled to a grant to help you adapt your home or be offered alternative accommodation such as supported housing.

  • Who's who in health services
  • Home and housing options
  • Financial support

If you become disabled, you may be entitled to financial support to help meet extra costs as a direct result of your disability.

This ranges from disability benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance, to VAT relief on products and services related to your disability, rate relief or grants to adapt your home, if necessary.


If you become disabled while in work there are many things you, and your employer, can do to allow you to stay in employment. You have employment rights under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

Adjustments to the workplace, processes or your duties could include providing practical aids and technical equipment to help you, organising a phased return to work, alternative employment within the same company, flexible hours or perhaps part-time work.

Whether you are in or out of work, Disability Employment Advisers at Jobs and Benefit offices can give you support and advice about work.

If you're employed and become disabled

Driving and your vehicle

If you are a driver, you must let the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) know about any medical condition or disability that may affect your driving.

If you become disabled, you may be able to get your own vehicle adapted or there are several options of getting an adapted vehicle, including the Motability scheme. You may also be free from paying vehicle tax.

Support groups and organisations

Keeping in touch with other people with disabilities can be a good way of getting informal advice and support - especially if your disability is new.

Your family and friends

Family members and friends may suddenly find themselves in a 'caring' role. They are also entitled to an assessment of their needs as a carer. They may be entitled to receive financial support such as Carer's Allowance.

If you are a parent or thinking of becoming one, read information about having a baby, parental support, schools and more.

Mental health

A new disability can sometimes affect a person's mental health - often there is a period of adjustment needed.

If you experience mental health problems, your GP or another health professional may refer you to a specialist like a psychotherapist, community psychiatric nurse or a counsellor. These professionals will work with you to help you find ways of dealing with problems you are experiencing or concerns you may have.

Support for people with learning disabilities

There are different types and levels of learning disability. There are support services available for people who have a learning disability, their families and carers.

Learning disabilities

A learning disability affects the way a person learns new things in any area of life. It affects the way they understand information and how they communicate. This means they can have difficulty:

  • understanding new or complex information
  • learning new skills
  • coping independently

A learning disability can be mild, moderate or severe. People with a learning disability may also have associated physical or sensory disabilities.

Assessment and treatment

Some learning disabilities are diagnosed at birth – Down’s syndrome for example. Others might not be discovered until later.

Assessment and treatment services are provided at the three learning disability hospitals in Northern Ireland:

  • Lakeview, Londonderry
  • Longstone, Armagh
  • Muckamore Abbey, Antrim

There is an assessment and treatment service for children at the Iveagh Centre in Belfast.

Learning disability support services

In Northern Ireland, people with learning disabilities are supported to live as independently as possible. The services and support provided will depend on individual circumstances and will require an assessment of individual needs.

Trusts provide services such as assessment and treatment, community living, respite and day opportunities.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability which can affect the way a person communicates and relates to other people.

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