What is Adult Social Care: Our Introductory Guide

October 30, 2023

Do you or a loved one need help with social care? Read the article below to find out answers to key questions about who can access adult social care, what support it may offer and how to pay for it. 

If you’re 18 or over and living with a disability, have a long-term condition, are an older person, or recovering from hospital treatment, you may require support from social care services.  

Social care can be very different from the health care you receive from the NHS, and is overseen by East Sussex County Council. Although it can include medical help, social care offers more practical support to enable people to live independently. 

These services are usually provided in people’s homes, care homes or elsewhere in the community, rather than at a GP practice or hospital. Social care can include many different types of support, for example: 

  • Help with domestic tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and shopping. 
  • Support with personal care, such as washing and dressing. 
  • Support to organise and attend leisure activities. 
  • Re-enablement services – short term support to regain independence, after an illness for example. 
  • ‘Respite care’ – temporary alternative care, to provide a break to an unpaid carer. 
  • Home adaptations or mobility equipment. 


How do I receive help through social care? 

There are several steps to accessing social care services: 


1. Ask for an assessment  

The first step is to speak to your local authority’s adult social services department and request an assessment to determine your needs.  

If you live in East Sussex, this will be via East Sussex County Council (ESCC).  

If you need social care for yourself, this is called a ‘social care needs assessment’, or a ‘needs assessment’.  

If you provide unpaid care for someone else, you are also entitled to an assessment of your needs. This assessment is called a ‘carers assessment’.  

You can also ask for an ‘equipment, adaptations and mobility assessment’ if you are disabled or have a health condition that affects your mobility and think you need home adaptations or equipment to enable you to be independent. 

To request an assessment or complete a self-assessment, use the details for East Sussex County Council Adult Social Care department below: 

Phone: 0345 60 80 191  

Email: hscc@eastsussex.go.uk 

Or complete an online self-assessment on the ESCC website. 


2. Find out if you have eligible needs  

The ‘social care needs assessment’ will determine whether your needs meet the eligibility criteria set out in the Care Act 2014.  

You can find out what these criteria are on the ESCC website. 

If your assessment shows that you’re not eligible for help from the local authority, they’ll write to you to explain why and give you information and advice about what can be done to meet or reduce your needs.  

If you don’t agree with the outcome of your needs assessment, you can appeal. To do this talk to your social worker or contact ESCC Adult Social Care complaints and feedback team on 01273 481 242 or email asccomplaintsfeedback@eastsussex.gov.uk . 


3. Plan your care and support   

If your local authority has decided that you have eligible needs for care and support, then it will plan with you what support you can be given and will let you know if any of these needs can be met with Direct Payments.

You should be involved in the care and support planning process. 

You can find out more about Direct Payments here. 

Find out more about assessing and planning your support on the ESCC website. 


4. Find out how much you will need to pay 

Unlike healthcare services, social care isn’t always free. A ‘financial assessment’ will determine whether you qualify for free social care or need to contribute towards the cost of your care. Most people pay for some or all of the cost of their care. 

The criteria used in means tests are complicated and involve the local authority looking at your financial assets and capital. 

If you are eligible for any financial support, your local authority will provide you with a ‘personal budget’ which you can spend on local services. 

Find out what the current means test thresholds are here. 

If you don’t agree with the outcome of your financial assessment, you can appeal. To do this talk to your social worker or contact ESCC adult social care complaints and feedback team on 01273 481 242 or email asccomplaintsfeedback@eastsussex.gov.uk . 


What should I do if I am unhappy with the process, or need support to engage with adult social care? 

Advocacy Services for people eligible for adult social care provision 

In East Sussex, POhWER provides several independent advocacy services, which can help people to be involved in decisions being made about their care. 

An independent advocate can support and empower you to speak up for yourself. 

If you want to make a complaint about Adult Social Care services, or appeal an assessment, you might want to use an independent advocate to help you understand the process and put your views across effectively. 

To check eligibility or to access independent advocacy services contact POhWER via: 

Email: pohwer@pohwer.net 

Telephone: 0300 456 2370 

Website: https://www.pohwer.net/east-sussex 



If you are unhappy with a service provided by Adult Social Care, contact the person you have been dealing with or their manager. Often things can be put right quickly. 

If you have raised your issue with the service or would rather talk to someone else, please contact East Sussex County Council’s Adult Social Care complaints team. 

The complaints team are available for support and advice, as well as dealing with formal complaints. 

Email: asccomplaintsfeedback@eastsussex.gov.uk 

Telephone: 01273 481 242 



Contact Us 

If you would like help to navigate health and care services, or you wish to share your experiences of health or social care with us, you can contact our Information and Signposting service on: 

Telephone:  0333 101 4007 

Email:  enquiries@healthwatcheastsussex.co.uk  

Or leave a review on our Feedback Centre. 

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