Thinking about change

Thinking about our future care needs is an issue few of us wish to address, but planning in advance before the need becomes urgent is vital.

Thinking about change

In particular, beginning to consider the financial implications of care needs while still reasonably fit and well can help relatives and friends to provide help and support in seeking appropriate professional advice.

Back to topSources of information

There is a lot of information available from a variety of sources including:

  • Your GP surgery. Many surgeries provide leaflets on the issues that patients may have to face and may also include information on sources of local information and help including council or hospital social work departments. Some may also carry advertisements for private care providers and/or financial advisors although these should not be regarded as being endorsed by the practice.
  • Your local council. These can provide details of care packages available within the local area both publicly funded (by the Council) and privately sourced. These will not only include details of residential care but typically may also include sheltered accommodation with or without an onsite warden, care workers who visit your home to help with dressing, bathing etc, and voluntary organisations who can provide support for shopping or driving you to hospital.
  • Individual residential homes. These often advertise in local papers or websites and provide information about the facilities available within a specific home. The Care Quality Commission also publishes inspection reports about individual homes on its own website (see link below).
  • Financial advisers. Specialists in funding care home fees should be qualified to give advice on the important issue of funding long term care and we recommend that professional help should always be sought where there is the possibility of commitment to long term, possibly life time, payments for care.
  • Charities. A large number of charities, both local and national, exist to provide support and advice to older people considering a move to residential care, or seeking support in a home environment.
  • Local libraries. These are a good source of information on local provision of advice and support and may have books or leaflets available describing the services available locally.
  • Mobile Libraries. Carry some useful information on local provision etc. And if asked would be able to bring relevant information out to you.
  • The Internet. For those able to access the Internet, there is a wide range of websites available offering advice and information on long term care. Not all of this advice may be correct or appropriate to you and we would always recommend that only websites for well-known national or local organisations with an established reputation are used for reference material, as well as websites maintained by your local council.
  • Friends and Relatives. If you know of someone who is already receiving care services or have a relative who has experienced a move into a care home their experience could be helpful to you in considering your own needs. Remember though that each individual’s requirements will be different, and although the experience of others may be helpful in knowing what specialist care is available and how it is delivered, your own needs will need to be considered within the context of your own particular circumstances and will require matching with a different set of services to meet them.

Back to topPlanning ahead

There are many issues to think about before committing yourself to the potential significant changes in lifestyle that a request for care services may generate. Some examples are:

Thinking about a care home:

  • Will I be able to afford the fees and how will I fund them?
  • Am I eligible for support from Social Services?
  • What happens if I have special medical requirements?
  • Supposing I have mobility problems?
  • How will my relatives be involved?

These are only a few typical representative examples of the more common questions asked.

Care in your own home:

  • Will I see the same carers on a regular basis?
  • How many visits a day will carers visit, and what times?
  • How can my home be modified if I have special needs such as use of a wheelchair ?
  • What happens to any benefits I receive such as ‘Attendance Allowance’?

Back to topIn hospital

The question of future care often comes up when someone is in hospital. Sometimes, hospital staff may indicate that someone will need residential care when they are discharged. In this case, the hospital social work team should be contacted as soon as possible as they can advise on all forms of care. Ward staff will be able to tell you how to contact them.

Back to topBeing a carer

Many of us help or take care of older relatives or friends, but we don’t always think of ourselves as “carers”. Nevertheless, there are many services available for “carers”, especially if you are spending a substantial amount of time looking after somebody else.

Carers who spend a significant amount of time looking after another person are entitled to an assessment of their own needs. This is a good opportunity to talk over your situation with someone experienced in this field, whether or not you are thinking about using specific services.

Back to topSudden change and emergencies

Sometimes things change fast, perhaps because of an accident, ill health or changes in family circumstances.

If you, or someone you are helping, needs care in an emergency, you may want to talk to someone who can give immediate advice on what can be done. Whether or not you think you may be entitled to, or want, to receive services organised by the Council, your Local Authority may be a good place to start, as they will know about the various services that may be available.

Back to topContacting your local authority

If you live in Essex, you can contact the Council through the call Centre (Contact Essex) on: 0845 7430 430 (Email: or access the Council website More information within Essex County Council website.

If you live in Southend, you can contact the Council for Adult Social Services on: 01702 215008. (Email: or access more information on the website for Adult Social Services within Southend

If you live in Thurrock, you can contact the Council on: 01375 652868 (e-mail or visit the Thurrock Council website.

Back to topMaking decisions

We all have the right to decide for ourselves how we want to live our lives. In law, everyone is assumed to have this right unless it can be demonstrated that they are no longer capable of taking decisions for themselves. This is true even when people seem to be taking decisions that don’t appear to others to be in their own best interests. Sometimes, however, we may want someone else to take over some responsibility for decision making on our behalf.

Different legal arrangements exist to regulate the situation when someone prefers to let another person, such as a relative, take decisions on their behalf, or when it appears that they are no longer capable of taking decisions in their own best interest.

Back to topNext steps

Find out as much as possible about the services and/or care homes in your area. Use our advice line provided by Independent Age to talk to an experienced advisor who can discuss your needs and provide you with confidential advice on meeting your care needs.

Use some of the resource material on this website and others to find out more about specific topics related to care needs.

  • Age UK
    This charity can also provide specialist advice to help you plan for future care with a vast range of information on every aspect of care in later life.
  • Age UK Essex
    Should have more localized knowledge for you on planning for care within the area you might choose or be living in.
  • Alzheimers Society
    This organisations is a great resource for anyone facing, or helping someone with, dementia
  • Carers UK
    The national organisation for carers
  • Care Quality Commission
    The CQC has registered over 18,000 care homes and publishes all its inspection reports on its website. These reports indicate for each home whether national standards are being met.
  • Essex County Council Guide
    This leaflet published by the Essex County Council titled 'Thinking about Residential Support' aims to help you consider your options for future long term care and support.
  • Find me Good Care
    Find Me Good Care helps people to make choices about care and support for themselves or other adults. Find Me Good Care can help you to think about what you really want out of care and support before you start looking for particular services.
  • First Stop
    This is another wide ranging information source with useful information relating to care needs in later life.
  • Independent financial advisors
    Financial advice is available from a number of independent financial advisors.
  • National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC)
    This organisation publishes a number of guides on planning for future care including end of life options such as hospice care.

Further links

Our own online index page of useful links to a summary of support organisations.