The SIgN project: Self-funders and information needs

This research showed that self-funders and their relatives find it challenging to find information about social care, in part because they do not know where to go or what to ask. Read the six-page project report about older self-funders and their information needs

We worked with study participants to create a leaflet and film aimed at helping self-funders and other people take their first steps to finding information about care and support in later life.

The leaflet ‘Getting informed, getting prepared: first steps to finding care and support for older people’ covers basic information about care as well as the places that can offer information, and what that information comprises. Read and print copies of the leaflet, in various formats, from the newly launched website.

Also on the website is our seven minute film ‘Finding care and support for older people’, with and without English subtitles. The film tells Heather’s real life story of finding information about care for her husband.

These are free resources. We hope the website and its contents will be widely used by members of the public, councils, NHS organisations, the voluntary sector and others offering information about social care to older people and their relatives. 

SPRU research team

Related links

Publications and presentations from the project are available from the York Research Database

This research sits within our Illness and impairment research theme. Read about our research themes.

External collaborators

  • East Riding of Yorkshire Council
  • Leeds City Council
  • Age UK, York

Project summary

Lots of people need help with everyday activities like getting in and out of bed, getting washed and dressed, or getting out and about. This is generally referred to as social care. Local councils pay for and help arrange this type of care for some people. However, many people are not eligible for local council help with social care because the level of care they need is lower than the council threshold or their income/savings are higher than the council financial threshold. These people must pay for their own care and are referred to as self-funders. Self-funders usually arrange their own care, with little or no involvement from the local authority. This can be difficult and daunting.

From April 2015, local councils have had to ensure their residents are provided with information and advice about social care – importantly, this includes self-funders. However, there is currently little research about how local councils and others can be supported in giving advice to self-funders or about exactly how many people pay for their own social care. Estimates suggest that around 20-25 percent of care provided to people in their own homes is paid for by self-funders. For people living in care homes, over 40 percent pay for their places out of their own money. The majority of adults who need social care are older people. As more people are living longer, the number of people needing social care is also increasing. This means the number of self-funders will increase. The level of need necessary to be eligible for local council help with social care has risen over recent years, which also means more self-funders.

This research will provide evidence about how self-funders go about getting the information and advice they need, and how staff from local councils, hospitals and charities can best support this process to ensure they are able to make informed decisions about their care wherever possible.

We will do this by recruiting up to 50 self-funders and up to 20 staff, and asking them in research interviews about their experiences, views and attitudes to getting or giving information and advice. We will use what we find out to create a short film and leaflet to help self-funders and other people thinking about getting some help. We will then run three workshops where we will invite self-funders and staff to get together to discuss the findings and help finalise the film and leaflet. The short film and associated leaflet will be about getting and using information about social care. The film will be available on YouTube to watch at home or in places people go to get information.

Additional information

Related links

Publications and presentations from the project are available from the York Research Database

This research sits within our Illness and impairment research theme. Read about our research themes.