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Care needs assessment

If you're finding it hard to manage and think you need social care, a care needs assessment is the first step. The assessment determines the kind of social care that would meet your care needs, whether this means adapting your home or moving into a care home.

How do I get a care needs assessment?

Get in touch with the adult social services department of your local council and ask for a care needs assessment.

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

You can arrange a care needs assessment on behalf of a relative or friend, but they have to agree to the assessment (unless they don't have the capacity to make or communicate that decision themselves). 

You can apply for a care needs assessment by contacting your local council.

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

Find your local council

You just need your postcode to get started.

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 an assessment online or over the phone – if you feel this isn't right for you, ask for a face-to-face assessment. They'll consider:

  • your health, and what you can and can't do, or struggle to do
  • your cultural and religious background and support network
  • your current living arrangements
  • how you'd like to be supported
  • 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 best 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 with you at 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 friend or carer there to help you.

Will I be eligible for help from social services?

Local councils have their own assessment procedures, but they follow national criteria to decide who's eligible for care and support. In making their decision, they'll look at whether you're unable to do, or have difficulty with, daily living tasks, and whether this has a significant impact on your wellbeing. 

  1. Do you have care and support needs as a result of a physical or mental condition?
  2. Are you unable to achieve two or more desired outcomes? 
  3. Is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on your wellbeing?

The daily living tasks include things like: 

  • eating properly
  • going to the toilet 
  • being safe at home 
  • keeping your home clean and safe 
  • seeing family and friends 
  • going to work, volunteering, education or training
  • using services in your area. 

If you have eligible needs, your local council has a legal duty to meet them.

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 120 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Jun 14 2024

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