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Everything You Wanted To Know About Care Needs Assessments (*but were afraid to ask)

Before looking to arrange any type of long term care, the very first thing to do is arrange a care needs assessment.

What is a care needs assessment?

Carried out by your local adult social services department, it sets a baseline for all care decisions. Without one, you can’t progress to discussing finances.

Under the 2014 Care Act, all local authorities have a legal duty to carry out a care needs assessment for anyone who needs help with daily tasks, regardless of their financial status.

The assessment determines exactly how much care and support an individual requires based on three conditions:

  • Physical or mental impairment or illness.
  • An inability to achieve two or more specified ‘care outcomes’, without help or danger:
    • Managing and maintaining nutrition
    • Maintaining personal hygiene
    • Managing toilet needs
    • Dressing appropriately
    • Living safely in their own home
    • Keeping their home habitable
    • Maintaining relationships
    • Accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering 
    • Using community facilities including public transport
  • The impact of a care decision on their overall well-being.

It’s essential that a care needs assessment guarantees this day-to-day well-being, as well as meeting personal care needs.  For example, if your loved one has expressed a preference to remain in their own home, this must be taken into consideration.

And local authorities must also ensure that the person being assessed is able to fully involve their family, friends or carer. It’s recommended that someone who knows the person well is present at the assessment to give accurate answers to all questions. This prevents the counter-productive temptation to adopt a stiff upper lip. 

a smiling lady

How is an assessment carried out?

There are five different ways a care needs assessment can be completed, depending on individual circumstances:

  1. Face-to-face in a person’s home.
  2. A supported self-assessment done by the person needing care on their own.
  3. A joint assessment by relevant agencies working together, including a social worker, occupational therapist and other relevant health professionals.
  4. Over the phone or online if the local authority is familiar with the person or the details are straightforward.
  5. A combined assessment of both the person needing care and their carer.

Whichever route is most suitable for your situation, thorough preparation is advisable. Write down the tasks that your family member is finding difficult, establish with them what they do and don’t want to talk about while still encouraging honesty, and be ready to give plenty of information. You could even keep a diary to share the difficulties of bad days and the achievements of good days.

Beyond the day-to-day practicalities, consider the well-being factor. The assessment will take a person-centred approach so think about issues such as where they would ideally like to live, what they expect from care, what their interests are and whose company they enjoy.

The assessment should give a comprehensive, and highly personal, insight into the person: a holistic view to determine precisely the right kind of care for them.

It can take several weeks to get an assessment in the diary, so consider using a flexible option like Holm to meet care needs in the meantime.

a smiling couple

What happens after an assessment?

Assessment done, you’ll receive a tailored care plan including:

  • A statement of needs.
  • How those needs will be met (home adaptations, specialist equipment, home or residential care etc).
  • Details of any charges to pay (see finance section below).
  • A review date which will happen at least once a year.

With a care needs assessment in your hand, it’s time to think about step two: funding.

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