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Eligibility criteria for adults with care and support needs

The national eligibility criteria set a minimum threshold for adult care and support. All local authorities must meet needs at this level.

The threshold is based on identifying how an individual's needs affect their ability to achieve relevant desired outcomes and whether as a consequence this has a significant impact on their wellbeing.

The eligibility threshold is based on identifying the following:

The adult's needs for care and support arise from or are related to a physical or mental impairment or illness:

This includes conditions such as physical, mental, sensory, learning, or cognitive disabilities or illnesses, substance misuse or brain injury.

As a result of the adult's needs, they are unable to achieve two or more of the outcomes specified in the regulations under the Care and Support eligibility criteria:

  • Managing and maintaining nutrition
  • Maintaining personal hygiene
  • Managing toilet needs
  • Being appropriately clothed
  • Being able to make use of the adult's home safely
  • Maintaining a habitable home environment
  • Developing and maintaining family or other personal relationships
  • Accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering
  • Making use of necessary facilities or services in the local community including public transport and recreational facilities or services
  • Carrying out any caring responsibilities the adult has for a child

The regulations provide that 'being unable' to achieve an outcome includes any circumstances where the adult is:

  • Unable to achieve the outcome without assistance. This includes where an adult would be unable to do so even when assistance is provided. It also includes where the adult may need prompting.
  • For example, some adults may be physically able to wash but need reminding of the importance of personal hygiene.
  • Able to achieve the outcome without assistance but doing so causes the adult significant pain, distress or anxiety. For example, an older individual with severe arthritis may be able to prepare a meal but doing so will leave them in severe pain and unable to eat the meal.
  • Able to achieve the outcome without assistance, but doing so endangers or is likely to endanger the health or safety of the adult, or of others. For example, cases where the health or safety of another member of the family, including a child, could be endangered when an adult attempts to complete a task or an activity without relevant support.
  • Able to achieve the outcome without assistance but takes significantly longer than would normally be expected. For example, a physically disabled adult is able to dress themselves in the morning, but it takes them a long time to do this, leaves them exhausted and prevents them from achieving other outcomes.

As a consequence of being unable to achieve two or more specified outcomes, there is, or there is likely to be, a significant impact on the adult's wellbeing, determining whether:

The adult's needs impact on their wellbeing in a significant way


The cumulative effect of the impact on a number of the areas of wellbeing means that they have a significant impact on the adult's overall wellbeing.

There is no hierarchy to the eligibility outcomes - all are of equal importance.

This page should be read in conjunction with The Care and Support (Eligibility Criteria) Regulations 2014 , and with Chapter 6 of the Care and support statutory guidance