As a general rule, social services are allowed to charge you for any community care services you receive. They have to charge you for accommodation they have arranged, for example in a residential care home, and may want to charge you even if you are required to live there under guardianship. This may not always be lawful, so if in doubt, you should seek advice about your rights from a lawyer. Our Useful contacts page has information on getting legal advice.
How much you pay depends on your finances, which are assessed by a means test. You do not have to pay for NHS services. You also cannot be charged for any services provided as part of your aftercare under section 117 of the MHA. If you are subject to a CTO you are entitled to section 117 aftercare and cannot be charged for services provided to you. Even if your CTO ends, if you still need section 117 services, you cannot be charged for them. If you think the authorities are charging you wrongly for aftercare services, you should get legal advice about stopping them from charging you.
See our page on section 117 aftercare for more information.
Can I insist on being given care services?
Although there is a legal duty to assess your need for services, this does not mean that you have a legal right to receive any specific service. Services will only be provided if the authorities assess you as 'needing' them, and decide that it is 'necessary to provide them'. The final decision on what you 'need' rests with health and social services. If you are assessed as having an 'eligible need', you are entitled to a service. There is national guidance about eligibility criteria which social services should use when assessing you. You may not receive the exact services you want unless the authorities agree you need them, but if you disagree with their decision, you can make a formal request for what you need, and if necessary, make a complaint or get legal advice.
What can I do if I disagree about my care services?
You can make a formal complaint to social services if you don't agree with the result of your assessment, or you have been waiting for one for an unreasonable length of time.
See Complaining about health and social care for more information.
If I don't want any services, do I have to have them?
You have a right to refuse any community care services offered to you and can only be forced to accept services if you are under the Mental Health Act and professionals have certain powers over you, such as:
- where you are on conditional discharge
- where you are on section 17 leave
- you are placed under guardianship, or
- you are subject to a Community treatment order
If none of these powers apply to you, health and social services might agree to leave you alone if you refuse services, even if they believe you would benefit from services. However, if they believe that your mental health is at risk of deteriorating, they may consider assessing whether you need to go back into hospital under section.
This information was published in March 2017. We will revise it in 2019.