Fair Access to Care Services

This policy sets out the South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership eligibility criteria for both adults and older people. (65yrs or over) The eligibility criteria has four categories and these are used to determine need and risk. The categories are:

  • Critical Risk: Indicates that there are critical risks to an individual’s independent living or health and well-being which are likely to call for the immediate provision of social care services (very high priority).
  • Substantial Risk: Indicates that there are significant risks to an individual’s independence or health and wellbeing and they may require input from Social Work or other partnership services. (high priority).
  • Moderate Risk: Indicates that there are some risks to an individual’s independence or health and wellbeing. These may call for the provision of advice and guidance including signposting to other services or they may simply be manageable over the foreseeable future. (medium priority)
  • Low Risk: Indicates that there may be some quality of life issues, but low risks to an individual’s independence or health and wellbeing with very limited, if any, requirement for the provision of social care services.

The purpose of having an eligibility criteria in place is to demonstrate equity, consistency and transparency in both the decision making process and the allocation of any resources.

Access to social work services requires an assessment of your needs to be completed. The process of assessment will explore informal means of meeting most needs. This might include support from family or locality based community services. In South Ayrshire we will provide information, advice and signposting to individuals across all of the above risk categories. This will include information and advice to resources such as the South Ayrshire Life information portal that can provide links to a wide range of existing community resources.

In South Ayrshire, funded resources will only be provided to individuals who have needs that cannot be met informally and are assessed as being critical. This will ensure that financial resources are targeted to those in greatest need and risk factors.

If you have any questions about the Fair Access to Care Services document, please contact your local South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership office on 0300 123 0900.


First contact with the Community Care service. An assessment is requested because the person or their carer feels they need help.


At the point of referral a member of staff will seek some brief details. This is to inform a screening assessment and help determine how the referral should be responded to and in what timescale. The aim is to give the public an early indication of their level of priority and when they can expect follow up. In some cases staff will offer one-off advice or guidance. If it is clear from the outset that the referral does not meet eligibility criteria then staff will explain this. The aim will be to target those with the highest needs and to try and ensure that priority is given to meeting those needs without delay. Every effort will be made to avoid delays and to keep any waiting time as short as possible.

We will try to avoid making people wait on a waiting list and we will ensure that those with the highest needs receive services first.

Joint Assessment

This is a process (not necessarily a single event) where we will gather the relevant information about individuals and their circumstances. This assessment will include information about your activities of daily living, your health and also finances as people may be asked to pay for, or make a contribution to the cost of some services.

The aim of the Joint Assessment is to identify positive outcomes for the individual to work towards. The Joint Assessment process is underpinned by the Talking Points personal outcomes approach and focuses on quality of life and change outcomes. The assessment process will involve identifying an individual’s strengths, needs, risks, capacity and define their personal outcomes.


People who are carers can also ask for a separate Carers Assessment of needs which will follow the same principles described above.

Support Planning

Following the assessment if there are eligible needs a personal Support Plan will be completed. The purpose of the Support Plan is to consider how the individual’s identified outcomes can be best met. We will work with you and agree this Support Plan and once it is complete you will receive a copy.

The Support Plan will outline which needs/outcomes are eligible for support through funded services. The Plan will set out which services or activities people will be involved with in order to meet their agreed outcomes.

An Adult Carer Support Plan is an important way of identifying your needs as an unpaid carer. One of our Social Workers or one of the team from South Ayrshire Carers Centre will arrange a good time to meet you to have an informal discussion about your caring role.

The support plan gives you the opportunity to identify the following:

  • your thoughts and feelings about caring
  • your relationship with the cared for person
  • your social and leisure activities
  • your physical and mental health
  • your education and work life goals
  • what would make things easier for you to carry out your caring role
  • whether a short break is needed
  • what would happen in an emergency, if you were unable to care.

Following the Adult Carers Support Plan discussion, we will make a plan to help support you. We will also let you know whether your needs are “eligible” for support from South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership. We use Local Eligibility Criteria to help us make this decision.

We will meet the needs of carers whose needs are Critical and Substantial. If you do not have needs that are Critical or Substantial, we will give you information and advice, including what local support is available. This could include, for example, help from South Ayrshire Carers Centre.

If at any time you feel that things you do to look after your relative or friend has changed or increased you can ask for a review of your Adult Carer Support Plan.

You can also contact South Ayrshire Carers Centre on 01292 263 000, who can discuss and complete an Adult Carer Support Plan with you.