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Needs assessment

The best way to get social care and support from your local council is to ask for a care needs assessment.

The local council will involve you throughout the assessment to identify what your needs are and how these affect your wellbeing. They will also discuss with you how you wish to live your life, and whether there are certain aims you would like to achieve but are unable to because of your care and support needs.

The assessment will start to consider how your care needs might be met. This may involve identifying how preventative services might help. These could include:

  • simple aids, such as devices to open jars and tins more easily
  • adaptations to your home, such as handrails
  • information about support available in the community

The assessment will also identify if you have a higher level of need, where you may need help in your own home or care in a care home.

The assessment should involve you and take sufficient time to capture all your needs.

If you have a friend or family member looking after you as an unpaid carer, they can have a carer's assessment to see if they need support.

The council must give you a copy of your needs assessment.

Will I be eligible for social care and support?

The eligibility threshold for adults with care and support needs is based on identifying how your needs impact your ability to achieve relevant outcomes, and how this affects your wellbeing.

Local councils must consider whether your needs:

  • arise from or are related to a physical or mental impairment or illness
  • make you unable to achieve two or more specified outcomes
  • significantly affect your wellbeing

Your needs are only eligible where they meet all three of these conditions. The specified outcomes measured include being able to:

  • prepare and eat food and drink
  • maintain personal hygiene, such as being able to wash yourself and your clothes
  • use the toilet
  • dress appropriately – for example, during cold weather
  • move around your home safely, including getting into it from outside
  • keep your home clean and safe
  • keep in touch with friends and family to avoid loneliness or isolation
  • access and engage in work, training, education or volunteering, including physical access
  • safely use necessary facilities or services in the local community, including public transport and recreational facilities
  • carry out any caring responsibilities, such as for a child

Local councils are not responsible for providing NHS services such as patient transport, but they should consider needs for support when you attend healthcare appointments.

Your local council's duty to carry out an assessment

Local councils have a duty to assess you if you seem to need care and support.

You may need care and support if you have trouble looking after yourself. This may be because of:

  • disability
  • a mental health illness
  • frailty because of ill health

You may be offered a care needs assessment even if you have not specifically requested it, or you can contact your local council's social services department and ask them to arrange one.

Normally, an assessment is carried out before a service can be provided by the social services department. If you need care urgently, the local council may be able to meet these needs without carrying out the assessment.

Needs assessments and funding

Once your local council has established that your needs meet the national eligibility criteria, it must make sure these needs are met. The first step will be to draw up a care and support plan or, in the case of a carer with eligible needs, a support plan.

If you have eligible needs, the council will check that you live in its area. Social care is not free, and you may have to contribute towards the cost. Councils will do a financial assessment to see if and how much you have to contribute.

The council should not refuse to meet eligible needs on the grounds of cost. However, if there's more than one option, it is allowed to choose the one it believes to be most cost-effective.

If your needs do not meet the national eligibility criteria, the council must still give you information and advice on what support might be available in the community.

Alternatively, you may want to consider funding your own care and support to help with the needs identified as a result of the assessment.

Making a complaint

If you disagree with your needs assessment or the care and support plan, there are ways that you can challenge a decision or make a complaint.

Information source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support/assessment-care-needs/