Health and Social Care

Health and Social Care Services

A person with a learning disability will have both health and care needs. 

Health needs are medical needs and services are provided by the NHS. These are free for UK and EU citizens.

Care needs are non-medical support needs such as personal care – getting washed and dressed. These are means-tested.

Local authority social care services are responsible for supporting vulnerable adults and children, their unpaid carers and families. They arrange care and support services for adults and children who are vulnerable because of learning or physical disabilities, long-term health problems (including mental health) or age. Help might be with personal care, aids, equipment and adaptations, home and day care services and respite care.

Support available for people with severe learning disabilities/difficulties can include support to:

  • find somewhere to live
  • go to school or college or work
  • meet new friends
  • take part in sports and other activities
  • find a day service
  • access health services

Reading Borough Council is responsible for social care services. To find out how you can get support, please call 0118 937 3747. Information about services for people with a learning disability can also be found in the Reading Services Guide.


The Care Act 2014

In 2014 The Care Act was passed into law to regulate the assessment and provision of care for Adults (18 years up) and carers. This page gives links to the published guidance from the Department of Health (DoH) on assessments and an overview of the Act from Luke Clements, Cerebra Professor of Law at Cardiff University. For an overview of the Care Act 2014 by Luke Clements click here.  

Guidance has been published about assessments, provision and eligibility of care under the 2014 Care Act. Click here to read it.

Also in September 2014 the Children & Families Act became law which abolishes statements of SEN and replaces them with Education, Health & Care Plans (EHC Plans). Click here to view Contact A Family's new guide to Social Care for children, "Getting Social Care Services when your Child has Additional Needs".


Reading Voice: Advocacy under the Care Act 2014

Advocacy is about supporting people to understand their options and rights, to have their say over their needs and to gain control over their lives. An advocate can speak on the person's behalf if needed but does not tell the person what to do or make decisions for them. 

New rights came into effect under the Care Act (2014) for the most vulnerable and isolated people to have an independent advocate to help them voice their preferences and choices during social care assessments, reviews, change of circumstances or around safeguarding concerns.

In Reading, people who are entitled to 'Care Act advocacy' will be matched with the most suitable independent advocate under a service being coordinated by Healthwatch Reading.

This means social workers or care managers will refer eligible cases to Healthwatch Reading Voice, which will then allocate the person to the right advocate from a pool of people from local charities.

The advocates are based at:

  • Age UK Reading
  • Reading Mencap 
  • Talkback.

They are all now qualified Care Act advocates or working towards the new advocacy qualification as required under the Act.

Care Act Advocacy (and NHS Complaints Advocacy) is provided free, is confidential, and is independent from providers of health and social care.

People with questions about the service should contact Healthwatch Reading by emailing or calling 0118 937 2295.


Healthwatch Reading

Through Healthwatch Reading you can make a complaint about hospitals, GPs, mental health services, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, opticians, 111, walk-in centres, NHS-funded private care and more.

Healthwatch Reading's advocacy team can help:

  • Explain how the NHS complaints process works.
  • Listen to your concerns and answer your questions.
  • Explain your rights.
  • Discuss all your options.
  • Get your complaint to the right people.
  • Put you in touch with other organisations.
  • Prepare with you for local resolution meetings.
  • Build up your confidence to speak for yourself.
  • Attend meetings with you.
  • Speak on your behalf if you are unable to.
  • Refer you to more specialist advocates if needed.
  • Help you go the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, if you are still dissatisfied

For more information visit the Healthwatch website or contact them on  or call 0118 937 2295.

  • Reading and Wokingham Councils are consulting on plans to combine their local Healthwatch services. The proposal represents a potential combined saving of £44,000 a year. The consultation runs until February 6 and can be completed online at


Reading Walk-in-Health Centre

You can get medical advice and treatment without an appointment at Reading Walk-in Health Centre. 

The centre, on the 1st floor at Broad Street Mall, is open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week including weekends and bank holidays. 

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have rated the centre as ‘good’ after making a visit on 7 February 2017. 

The centre also offers health checks for people with learning disabilities - an appointment is needed to access this service. 

To see a full copy of the report, please visit the CQC website. 

For more information about the health centre, visit or call 0118 902 8300.


Children's Single Point of Access

If you have any concerns about the welfare of a child or you would like to ask for extra support for a child or family in Reading, contact the Children's Single Point of Access.

0118 937 3641 - Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm.

For urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call the Emergency Duty Team on 01344 786 543.


Accessible Information Standard

All organisations that provide NHS or Adult Social Care must now follow the Accessible Information Standard by law. This includes doctors, dentists, hospitals, pharmacies and social workers.

The standard aims to ensure that patients and people who use services and their families and carers are provided with information they can easily read or understand, and with support they can communicate easily with health and social care services.

How does the standard work?

If you have a learning disability it means that NHS or Adult Social Care services need to:

  1. Find out your communication and information needs
  2. Record these communication and information needs clearly and consistently on your record
  3. Flag these needs, so when a member of staff opens your record it is really clear what your communication or information needs are
  4. Share your information and communication needs when needed, for example if they are referring you to another service.
  5. Take action to give you the right support.  For example, offering you easy read information or making sure there is someone there to support you with communication.

National Mencap has produced an easy read guide to the Accessible Information Standard.