Social care: eligibility criteria and waiting times Scotland 2022-2023

The latest information on new clients meeting eligibility criteria for social care support, and the waiting times between first contact, completion of a community care assessment and delivery of a new personal care service.

This document is part of a collection

This publication presents the latest information on:

  • new clients meeting local eligibility criteria for social care support or new personal care services in Scotland,
  • waiting times between first contact with services and the completion of a community care assessment,
  • waiting times between completion of a community care assessment and delivery of personal care services.

The data collected provides important information to the Scottish Government and Local Authorities (LAs) on the extent of new demand for social care services. This information helps monitor the target of providing personal care to adults assessed as having critical or substantial needs within six weeks of their assessment, as well as that for Local Authorities who have a duty to assess any adult who appears to need community care services under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 (“the 1968 Act”).

The Eligibility categories – Critical, Substantial, Moderate, and Low Risk – are defined in the national framework guidance on National Eligibility Criteria and Waiting Times for the Personal and Nursing Care of Older People issued jointly by the Scottish Government and COSLA on 28 September 2009. The category of “No Risk” is used for people who are assessed as not coming under the definitions for any of the four eligibility categories, and “Not available” is used when the eligibility category is not known. The Eligibility Criteria consider both (a) the severity of the risks and (b) the urgency for intervention to respond to the risks. The categories were initially developed for older people but were extended to all adults with the extension of free personal care in April 2019.

The national framework recognises that local authorities should set local eligibility criteria for access to personal and nursing care services. Local eligibility criteria indicate what level of need councils and their partners recognise as requiring services. In setting such criteria, local authorities will consider a range of factors including the overall level of resources available to meet need, the cost of service provision and ensuring equity in their service decisions. Eligibility criteria are a method for deploying limited resources in a way that ensures that those resources are targeted to those in greatest need, while also recognising the types of low level intervention that can be made to halt the deterioration of people in less urgent need of services. As such, there may be variation in the levels of service and delivery of services across local authorities.


An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland

These statistics are designated as Official Statistics in accordance with the Statistics and Service Registration Act 2007. They have been produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Further information on Official Statistics is published by the UK Statistics Authority.

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