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You've got a friend in Social Care Talk

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Nadra Ahmed
Nadra Ahmed, Executive Chair of the National Care Association, explains how a new website can help people make informed decisions about paying for care.

The power of testimony

Friends, family and colleagues are all great sources of information. Sometimes, information comes from chance encounters, when you’re walking the dog or dropping off the kids. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, hearing about what other people did in that situation can help.

It can help with finding out what the options are, the pros and cons of those options, how long it takes to arrange something, or who else to talk to. And, importantly, it can help to know that other people have been in your situation and that they found it tricky too!

But what happens if your friends and family have no experience of your situation? Or you don’t want to talk to colleagues. Or they have very limited experience? What then?

People find themselves in this situation when they need to pay for social care. I’m thinking particularly about older people who are self-funders, and their grown up children who often play an essential role in arranging care. They are faced with a triple whammy of figuring out what care the older person needs, how to arrange it and how to pay for it.

Yes, local council adult social care departments are there to help. But people don’t always ask them for help. And it can be hard to digest the information offered, as we’ve discovered in previous research.

So how can older self-funders and their families learn from the experiences of people outside their usual networks? By clicking on Social Care Talk.

People looking for directions
‘This [site] is great for patients... to find out more about how they access social care [and] for GPs [to] signpost... [them] to this resource.' GP, Lucy Pocock [Image supplied by]

Showing the way

This site aims to help people understand and navigate the social care system. All resources are based on rigorous academic research. We recorded 29 interviews with self-funders and family carers in a project funded by the National Institute for Health Research, called ‘Finding and funding social care’. We grouped video and audio clips from the interviews into major issues and placed them on the site.

The result is a section called ‘Paying for social care (older people)’. It is aimed primarily at members of the public but will also help social care, finance and health professionals learn more about self-funders’ experiences and how they could help.

‘This is a great resource for patients and their families to find out more about how they access social care; for GPs so that they can signpost their patients to this resource and learn more themselves. And also for GPs in training to really get an understanding of the social care system, how they can support patients and their families to negotiate the social care system.’ Lucy Pocock, GP

‘Paying for social care’ includes an overview, summaries of 23 issues, profiles of people we interviewed and links to useful resources. Each summary features a written account of people’s experiences, illustrated with video, audio and text clips of selected people talking about those experiences.

The summaries are presented under various headings, including ‘Getting the right care’, ‘Assessments and eligibility’ and ‘Family and friends’.

How much self-funders will need to pay towards care is changing in 2023. Will this mean they will find the system easier to navigate? Will it mean people no longer benefit from listening to others’ stories? Definitely not. Take a look at Social Care Talk and find the help you need.


This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Research for Patient Benefit (Social Care) (award number NIHR200052). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

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