Development of a decision support tool for older people who pay for social care, and their families

Kate Baxter In progress  


Many everyday activities such as getting dressed or washed, or making a meal, become more difficult as people get older. Help with these activities is called social care. Social care comes in many shapes and sizes, including getting help at home or living in a care home. Social care can be expensive. Some people receive help to pay for this care from their local council, but many people pay for some or all of it themselves. Thinking about what care is needed and how to pay for it, now or in the future, is complicated. There is so much information available that it can be hard to find the right information or know who to talk to. People who pay for their care often arrange all this by themselves, with little help or advice from professionals.


This study aims to create a ‘decision support tool’.

Decision support tools aim to help people feel comfortable with the decisions they make as well as the way they make them. They are usually a list of questions to help people think about what is important to them. They also provide information about the risks and benefits of choosing different options. Decision support tools are often used in health care, for example in choosing between keyhole and open surgery.

The decision support tool that this study will create aims to help older people make decisions about paying for social care, learn more about their options for paying for care and to think through what is important to them.


This study has four steps:

  1. Understand the scope and purpose of the decision tool through a) secondary analysis of interview data from an NIHR-funded study and from the NIHR SSCR-funded PRESENCE study, b) consultation with key practitioners, and c) a literature review
  2. Develop an initial version of the tool through five co-designed workshops
  3. Test and modify the tool through a series of sequential interviews using ‘think aloud’ techniques
  4. Pilot the tool with the Money and Pensions Service.