Abstract The current study investigated the types of support networks and services accessed by people with progressive neurological illness, as well as the assessment of the usefulness of these services. The participants were 25 people with multiple sclerosis, 15 people with motor neurone disease, 23 people with Parkinson's disease, and six people with Huntington's disease. Twenty-eight professionals who worked with people with these illnesses and 41 carers of people with these illnesses also were interviewed. The results demonstrate that all of the groups of respondents indicated a strong need for basic services (e.g. home help), as well as specialized services (e.g. support groups). These two services also were identified as the most useful services by all of the groups of respondents. The similarities and differences between the groups, as well as the patients and carers, are examined. These findings demonstrate the importance of providing basic services for people with progressive neurological illnesses.