General Support in the Community

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Find out what support may be available for you

There are various agencies involved in providing community care including: your local social work (or social care / social services) department, the NHS, private and voluntary organisations and your local council's housing and education departments.

All these professionals are there to advise you on what services are available and to help you adapt your home / lifestyle if necessary.

Local services may vary depending on where you live in Scotland. There may also be a charge for some services, depending on your circumstances.

Help provided by your local social work department

Each local council has a social work department (sometimes called social care or social services) which has a major responsibility for organising / coordinating community care services. These services help you live as independently as possible at home and can include:

  • Help and advice about personal care, e.g. dressing, washing
  • Help with the housework
  • Help with the shopping
  • Help with meals
  • Lunch clubs
  • Day care
  • Sitter services / care attendants
  • Respite care to give your carers a break
  • Advice about transport
  • Advice about finding alternative housing options, e.g. supported accommodation and care homes
  • Advice about alarm sytems
  • Advice about equipment and housing adaptations, e.g. wheelchairs, ramps, stair lifts.

Help provided by your GP’s surgery

Your GP’s surgery will have a team of nurses (including a Practice Nurse, HealthVisitor, District Nurse and Health Care Assistant) who can also help. You can make an appointment with the Practice Nurse yourself, but you will need to ask your GP to refer you to the district nursing or health visiting services.

Mobile services

There are many additional services that can be provided in your own home. For example:

dental visits, eye examinations, hairdressers and chiropodists. To find out what is available locally try looking online, in the Yellow Pages or phone NHS inform: 0800 224488.

Chronic medication service

The Chronic Medication Service (CMS) is an NHS Scotland service for people with a long-term condition. It is available at pharmacies across Scotland. The service is optional: if you have a long-term condition, you can choose whether you want to register for it.

The service can help you manage the medicines you take for your condition. Your pharmacist is an expert in medicines and will talk to you regularly to help you get the most benefit from them.

Many chemists also provide a repeat prescription and pick-up service: ask at your GP’s surgery or chemist.


Wheelchairs are a special provision that are usually funded by the NHS although more complex outdoor and motorised wheelchairs often have to be self-funded. It is important that you are prescribed the correct chair and cushion for your particular needs. If you buy one independently, make sure you and / or your carer can use it. Remember it has to fit through the internal doors of your house and you may have to use ramps.


Contact your local council offices for information about travel concessions and disabled parking for your area (e.g. the Blue Badge Parking Scheme).

Assessment, arranging and paying for social care services

  • Assessment

You need to have an assessment of your care needs if you want to receive help with arranging or providing care services from your Local Authority. Even if you plan to arrange and fund these services yourself, it is still a good idea to get an assessment to ensure that all your care needs are identified and that you are aware of any help that may be available to you from your Local Authority or the NHS. The assessment of your care needs is free. Any services or equipment supplied by the NHS is free.

You can contact your local Social Work Department and ask for an assessment: this is known as 'self-referral'. You can also ask someone else to do this on your behalf. Your GP, district nurse, member of hospital staff, local housing officer, welfare rights officer, citizens' advice worker, relative or carer can ask for an assessment for you. You, and your carers, may want to think about what your needs are before this assessment takes place.

Councils can provide temporary services before a care assessment has been carried out if the Council considers that a situation is urgent. Once any temporary services are provided, the Council must carry out a care assessment as soon as is practicable. The temporary services may be increased, withdrawn or changed after the fuller assessment.

  • Arranging

After the assessment, the Council must decide whether or not it will provide or arrange services for you. You should be told about what you will receive and the length of time you may have to wait before receiving any of the services you have been assessed as needing If, while you are waiting, your needs change, you should get back in touch with the Social Work Department. If you disagree with the outcome of your assessment, you can ask for a further discussion of your needs.

  • Paying for services

Depending on your circumstances you may have to pay for some services. The Social Work Department will carry out a financial assessment and you will be told how much you have to pay before you accept any services.

If you prefer not to have a financial assessment you can refuse, but you will have to pay the full cost of any service(s) arranged for you.

The financial assessment will look at your own income and savings and the Local Authority will make a decision about how much you are able to contribute towards paying for the services.

The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 requires council's to offer you 4 choices on how you can get your social care. The choices are:

  • Option 1: direct payment (cash payments to you for the purchase of your care and support)
  • Option 2: you direct the available support (e.g. from an agency or a voluntary organisation)
  • Option 3: the local authority arranges your support
  • Option 4: a mix of the above.

Self Directed Support allows you to receive the support you need from a provider you have chosen, helping to increase the flexibility, choice and personal control of your care arrangements. It is not an additional benefit but a way in which your support is managed.

Useful contacts

  • Self-Directed Support in Scotland: information about Self-Directed Support for people who use social care services.
  • Care Information Scotland: a telephone and website service providing information about care services for older people living in Scotland.
  • Assist UK: leads a UK wide network of locally-situated Disabled Living Centres. Most centres include a permanent exhibition of products and equipment that provides you with opportunities to see and try products and equipment and get information and advice from professional staff about what might suit you best.
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