Relocation, portability and social care practice: a scoping review

White C, Marsland D, Manthorpe J

Journal of Social Work 2016, 16, 5: 521—540

Available online 24 Apr 2015


The portability of publicly-funded adult social care across local authority boundaries received recent policy attention in England and was addressed in the Care Act 2014. This article presents the findings of a scoping review conducted between July–September 2012 that searched selected journals and online databases for relevant material. The aim of the review was to identify what is known about the experiences of adults entitled to publicly-funded social care who move between local authorities, and the support provided by social workers to those planning to relocate. The review focused specifically on disabled adults and carers, eligible for and in receipt of social care support, who relocate for work or education in England.

The review identified little direct research covering experiences of moving between local authorities. However, six specific barriers, challenges and facilitators to relocation were identified; these included the portability of social care support, variations in policy and practice between local authorities, and housing availability. The review concludes that the process of relocation may be complex, challenging, and uncertain, although individuals may experience benefits and positive outcomes.

The review outlines areas for good social work practice in supporting people using social care services to relocate. These include: ensuring the provision of information; close working between local authorities and social workers; the development of interim plans to address potential delays in setting up support; proactive and rapid monitoring and reassessment following a move to address potentially changed support needs arising from changed housing circumstances.