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Care needs assessment

If you need social care, whether that's home adaptations or a care home, a care needs assessment is the first step.

How do I get a care need assessment?

Get in touch with the adult social services department of your local council and ask for a care assessment (also known as a needs assessment). Explain you need support managing everyday tasks like accessing your community.

There’s no charge for a care assessment and you’re entitled to one regardless of your income and savings, and regardless of what your needs are.

Find your local council

Can I arrange an assessment for my relative or friend?

Yes, but the person has to agree to have one (unless they don’t have the capacity to make or communicate that decision themselves).

If you’re a carer, you are entitled to a carer’s assessment too.

Carer's checklist

Not sure where to start as a carer? Our checklist gives helpful tips to make sure you get the support and information you need.

What does the care needs assessment involve?

A social care professional will usually come to see you to find out how you’re managing everyday tasks. You may be offered a telephone or online assessment. If you feel this is not right for you, ask for a face-to-face assessment. They will look at:

  • the emotional and social side of your life
  • your skills and abilities
  • your views, religious and cultural background and support network
  • any physical difficulties you may experience, or any risks
  • any health or housing requirements
  • your needs and wishes
  • what you would like to happen
  • information about your needs from your carer, if you want them to be involved in your assessment.

The assessor will also talk to other professionals who care for you, like your GP or nurse, if you’re happy for the council to do so. This is to make sure everyone is on the same page with the support you need.

Your local council must do their most to help you. They should consider what support you need right now, and what might help in the future.

How can I prepare for the assessment?

Think about the kind of help you need. Be specific, for example:

  • ‘I need someone to help me get up and dressed in the mornings’
  • ‘I need help to shower regularly’
  • ‘I need to be reminded to take my medication’

Think about your cultural, social, religious and emotional needs too, for example:

  • ‘I want to go to my place of worship once a week’
  • ‘I want to visit my brother twice a month’

Ask a friend or carer to be there for your assessment if you can. The local council must provide you with someone to support you if you can’t speak up for yourself or have difficulty understanding others. This only applies if you don't have a specific individual (friend, relative) that you want to help you.

Will I be eligible for help from social services?

Local councils have their own assessment procedures, but they follow a national criteria to decide who is eligible for care and support. They will have to consider three questions in making their decision:

  • Do you have care and support needs as a result of a physical or mental condition?
  • Are you unable to achieve two or more desired goals or outcomes as a result of your care and support needs?
  • Is there, or likely to be, a signficant impact on your wellbeing?

The desired goals and outcomes include being able to:

  • eat properly
  • look after your personal hygiene
  • go to the toilet
  • dress yourself
  • be safe at home
  • keep your home clean and safe
  • see family and friends
  • go to work, volunteering, education or training
  • use services in your area

'Not being able to achieve' an activity means that:

  • you need help to do it
  • when you try to do it yourself it's painful, or makes you feel distressed or anxious
  • it's dangerous for you or others
  • it takes you a much longer time than it should.

If you have eligible needs, your local council has a legal duty to meet them. As part of your assessment you should receive appropriate advice about how your needs should be met.

What happens after the assessment?

  1. After the assessment, a care plan should be agreed with you and a copy given to you. This will detail what needs you have and what could help to meet those needs.
  2. Then there will be a means test to find out how much you need to contribute towards your care and support.

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We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 140 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 28 2022

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