Services in the community

If you are caring for someone at home, it is likely that you will need support at some point. You may wonder what is available and how you can access it.

The first place to look is in your community. The local community has always played a part in supporting people with needs, but in recent years there has been a growth in charity provision, social enterprise and small private businesses. This has created a broad range of provision for disabled people and carers, some of which is low-cost.

What help is available in my community?

Local authorities have a duty to ensure that good clear information is easily available. The councils’ websites give lots of information about local groups and services. In addition, there are online resources, telephone advice lines, information hubs and even information events, all catering to disabled adults and children, their families and carers. Libraries and health centres are also reliable sources of what is available locally.

You may be surprised at how much is going on in your local community that you could benefit from. There are groups and services run by charities, social enterprises and even individuals who recognise a local need and set something up.

Ventures such as the Memory Café that a resident started in Thornbury; a club for disabled people and their carers which meets at a church in Frampton Cotterell; or Growing Support, Bristol-based gardening clubs tackling loneliness, social isolation and inactivity. These are just a few.

Wellaware is the single most comprehensive online guide to health, well-being and community services and covers the counties of Bristol and South Gloucestershire and is a good place to start.  

Bristol City Council has information about local services.

South Gloucestershire Council has information about community support.

Who can help with cleaning, gardening and maintenance jobs around the house?

You could ask for personal recommendations from people you know or you could try Wellaware, where you can search online for all kinds of local services. If you appoint someone through Wellaware you will probably want to check references. It’s a good idea to obtain a written quote for any work in advance and to get more than one quote.

South Gloucestershire Council has a Handy Van service that can help with minor repairs and small adaptations as well as gardening maintenance.

Age UK South Gloucestershire have a tradesperson register and whilst they cant recommend people, they make sure people provide references, have insurance and are interviewed before going on the register.

In Bristol, We Care Home Improvements has a handyperson scheme and operates a similar tradesperson register.

I am struggling to cope with the personal care of the person I look after 

Home care helps people remain independent and to live in their own homes for as long as possible. The staff coming into your home can help with washing, bathing and dressing, as well as with meals and medication. The assistance they provide can also help a carer take a break by keeping the person company for a couple of hours.

Home care is no longer provided directly by the council but by private care agencies on the council’s behalf. You do not need to be referred by the health and social services department of your local council. You can make arrangements with any of the care agencies on an individual basis. This may suit people who are self-funding or whose needs do not meet the threshold for help from the council.

Choosing the right care will affect the quality of your life, your family life and the person you care for, so it’s essential to choose the provider who will give the best all-round service for all of your needs. There is a website called Care Choices where you can search for all types of care provision

You will find a list of care agencies on the South Gloucestershire Council and Bristol City Council websites.

There is a lot of useful information on NHS choices about care and support providers. You can find out about things to think about and search for a care agency.

You can check the rating of any provider you are considering on the Care Quality Commission website.

Care agency services are in great demand and you may need to phone several before you find one able to help. People’s experience of using care agencies is very mixed – they are the subject of much praise and some criticism. See the Which guide for tips on choosing a care agency.

It is now common for people to employ individual care workers or personal assistants. This gives you greater choice and control in being able to choose someone you feel comfortable with. You could employ someone you already know – a friend or, in some circumstances, a family member. However, it does mean extra responsibilities as an employer which is not for everyone.

If you choose to employ someone directly you could consider using a specialist company. They can help you through the process and will take on some tasks, like contracts and payroll. You can find out more about these organisations in Bristol on the Bristol City Council website and in South Gloucestershire on the South Gloucestershire Council website.

Disability Rights UK has produced a factsheet on employing a personal assistant or care worker yourself.

These options are open to you without going through the health and social services of your local council. But if you need some assistance from the council to get these services, see the section on help from my local council.

Where is my nearest day centre?

Many council-run day centres have been closed in recent years and the few that remain cater for those with high-level needs. Generally, people who are looking for a place at a day centre, are referred by social services but many centres will consider applications from people with care needs who can pay privately.

See our help from my local council section for a full list of day centres we know of that are currently operating in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

I am looking for a lunch club or other activity group that the person I care for can try

People looking for support and activities during the day can find a range of interest-based groups. These are groups that cater for disabled people and people with health conditions. They bring people together with a common interest or hobby such as singing, sports or crafts.

The Wellaware database is a good place to have a look for clubs and activity groups.

However new sessions are starting all the time and it is sometimes hard to find up-to-date information. Sign up for newsletters and information bulletins that are relevant to your situation and give yourself the best chance of keeping abreast of what is out there.

Some carers find that other carers are the best source of information. One of the top reasons given for attending a carers’ group, is because of how much you find out from the other members.