By Geoff Adams-Spink
Age & disability correspondent, BBC News website
The BBC has launched an interactive tool to give people an idea of how much social care support they are entitled to and how much it will cost.
The tool was developed with the London School of Economics
The Care Calculator is part of the Care in the UK series on Radio 4.
You & Yours and Woman's Hour are highlighting the issue throughout January ahead of a government consultation which is due in April.
The Calculator is accompanied by a care map which shows how services differ.
While the number of people who need support - either in their own homes or in a residential setting - is due to rise, many local authorities around the UK have been trying to tighten the criteria to control spending on social care.
The number of people over 85 is predicted to double in the next 20 years and treble in 40 years.
As people age they are more likely to have an impairment or long-term health condition - almost half of those over 75 have one.
Knowing how and where to access support for older or disabled people is becoming a major preoccupation for many people.
The Care Calculator provides average figures for England and is based on a model created by the London School of Economics (LSE).
The accompanying care map then provides an indication of the likely levels of support in specific areas together with information about local sources of help and advice.
Anyone using the Calculator is taken through some hypothetical scenarios, one of which might well resemble their or their relative's own situation.
- A single man with arthritis who needs help with bathing and shoppingA person with MS and epilepsy who is reluctant to go out
- A wheelchair user who needs help with showering, dressing and meal preparation
- Someone with early onset Alzheimer's' Disease who is not safe in the kitchen
- A person with Motor Neurone Disease who is unable to speak, eat or walk but whose cognitive functions are intact
- A woman recently diagnosed with breast cancer who is undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, not working and feeling generally unwell
The user is then asked whether they live alone or with others, their age, whether or not they own their home, how much they have in savings and about their level of income.
Take the case of a person with early onset Alzheimer's, living with a partner, aged between 70 and 74, who owns their own home, has savings of less than £21,500 and income of more than £150 a week.
For this person, the system has bad news.
"Less than 5% of people in such circumstances receive home care support," the Calculator advises.
Those who do, it says, get between two and eight hours per week on average.
And because the person in question has an income above £150 a week, they are likely to have to contribute towards the cost of their care.
And, the Calculator suggests, somebody in a similar situation would be unlikely to qualify for residential care.
People are also being invited to contribute to the government's national consultation on the future of social care by completing a questionnaire on the You & Yours website.
A social care green paper will be published after the consultation.