Social Services

Asking for help from others, can often be one of the hardest things for a parent/carer of a disabled child to do. You feel that you should be able to cope and battle with feelings of guilt. It is so important that you try not to feel this way, at the end of the day asking for help and hopefully receiving it will help improve yours and your child's life.

Any child with a disability would have special needs and as such are likely to be identified as a "child in need" under the 1989 Children Act, which entitles them to an assessment by Social Services to determine what support services can be offered.

The first step and probably the hardest is to contact your local Social Services - this can be done directly by yourself or by your GP, Child Development Centre or perhaps your Paediatrician. Details of your local social services department should be available through your local council.

Children with Disabilities Team (CWD)

Most council authorities will have a special social care team to deal with disabled children and it is this special team that will get in touch with you. You will need to explain your situation in detail, so make sure you have a good idea of what your concerns are and perhaps what basic help you may need. Sometimes it can be difficult recounting so many issues from day to day so it can be helpful to keep a daily diary for a while.

Examples of some concerns:

Examples of basic help:

What happens next?

Once you have made that initial contact a Social Worker from the CWD may first send you a form to complete and then arrange to visit you and your child/family in person to assess your situation and determine whether you meet their department's eligibility criteria for the services they provide. The initial assessment consists of lots of questions about you, your disabled child, your family situation, your health and things you do to care for your disabled child. Therefore it is good to be prepared (use of the diary). The outcome of the assessment will determine whether you are eligible for any support and if not, they will give you details of voluntary local groups that may assist. If you do meet the criteria, there are several ways you may get help and support. The level and degree of this support depends on your family circumstances and your child's needs. It may include one or more of the following:

Your local CWD team will meet the cost of any services they have recommended as and when you use them, but there is now an option for you to take what is referred to as direct payments from the local council.

Direct Payments:

Direct Payments were created by the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 - these are local council payments for children who have been assessed as needing help from social services, and whose parents would like to arrange and pay for their own care and support services instead of receiving them directly from the local council. Direct Payments are about providing more choice, independence and control over the services and care.

For example:

Direct payments can’t be used to buy services from the council. However you can choose to have a combination of council-provided social care services and direct payments to pay for services which you choose yourself.

Your social worker will discuss the direct payments option with you when you have your care needs assessed and the direct payments support service can help you to make sure that the services you buy are suitable, with practical advice on things like.

The support service can also help you manage your direct payments and associated responsibilities. For example you will be required keep records of everything you pay for and also follow employment regulations.

Direct Payments are seen to promote the independence of parents and their disabled children who would like to manage their own social care needs. If a child is under 16 Direct Payments will usually be made to their parent. When a child becomes 16 she or he can receive payments in their own right to allow them to buy in the services they have been assessed as needing. In the past you could not insist on Direct Payments, however, in England and Scotland, a request should now be refused only in very limited circumstances.

The amount you receive should be enough to allow you to meet all costs, including tax and National Insurance as well as the fee for a police check, from the payments equivalent to what you would have been charged had they arranged the services. Alternatively, Social Services may make the payments in full and ask you to reimburse them any assessed charge. Any payments you receive must be used to pay for services to meet the assessed needs.

What Direct Payments cannot be used for:

Direct Payments are made so that individuals can arrange and purchase their own services. However, there are several things they can't be used for:

Please discuss with your CWD Social Worker as other rulings may be in the pipeline

Download: A parents Guide to Direct Payments (also available via the INFORMATION page)

More about the Occupational Therapist (OT)

This is where things get a bit confusing because you will come across OT’s in both social care and health care, here we will explain about the role of the social services OT:

Your social worker from the CWD will put you in touch with your local social services OT and they will visit you at home to assess your needs in much the same way as the CWD social worker did (bring out the diary again). They will provide a recommendation report for adaptations required to make your home accessible for your child – remember that for children under 16 years of age the criteria is to provide access in/out of the home, to provide a suitable bathroom with necessary equipment (shower or bath, toilet, wash basin, anti slip flooring and handrails) and bedroom facilities including adequately positioned light switches, electrical sockets, window openers and doors together with appropriate heating. They do not consider any family living space or access to kitchens. The sorts of equipment they will provide you with (as a loan) are: