Age NI uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our policy. To read more about how we use cookies and how you control them. Read our cookie policy
Skip to content
Please donate

Care needs assessment

The first step to getting social care, whether you may need some home adaptations, home care or a care home place, is to get a care needs assessment from your local authority.

How do I get a care need assessment?

Get in touch with your local council to ask for one. You need to contact the adult social services department.

Explain you need some help at home and ask for a care assessment (also known as a needs assessment).

Find your local council

Your local authority's social services department will carry out a free assessment of your care needs

Am I eligible for a care needs assessment?

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.

If you care for someone you are also entitled to a carer’s assessment.

How do I arrange an assessment for my relative or friend?

If you’re worried about someone and think that a care needs assessment might be useful, you can ask the local authority, 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 have a carer’s assessment too.

What does the care needs assessment involve?

You will be assessed either by a social worker (often called a care manager) or an occupational therapist (OT), depending on the level of your needs. The person who assesses you should look at the following things in the assessment:

  • 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.
  • If you have a carer, what their needs and opinions are.

Under the Care Act, the local authority must act to maximise your wellbeing and seek to prevent, reduce and delay any future needs.

The assessor contact any other health and social care professionals who need to be involved in your assessment and care. 

What needs are eligible for help from social services?

Although Local Authorities have their own assessment procedures, they will follow national criteria to decide who is eligible for care and support.

You will be eligible for care if:

  • you have needs connected with any kind of disability or illness


  • those needs prevent you achieving 2 or more of the outcomes listed below


  • that results in a significant impact on your wellbeing.

In order to be eligible for care, your needs must prevent you achieving 2 or more of the things listed below:

  • managing and maintaining nutrition
  • maintaining personal hygiene – for example, being able to wash yourself
  • managing toilet needs
  • being appropriately clothed - for example, being able to get dressed
  • being able to make use of your home safely
  • being able to keep your home in a habitable state
  • developing and maintaining family or other personal relationships
  • accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering
  • making use of necessary facilities or services in your local community such as public transport and libraries
  • being able to care for any dependent children

Not being able to achieve 2 or more of the above means that you either need help to do these activities, or that when you try to do it yourself it causes you pain, distress or anxiety, it is dangerous for you or others, or it takes you a much longer time than it should.

If you have eligible needs the Local Authority 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?

After the assessment a care plan should be agreed on with you, written out and a copy given to you. This care plan will detail what needs you have and what could help to meet those needs.

Then there will be a means test to see how much you should contribute towards your care and support.

Find out more about the next steps of the process

Age NI Advice Service

Every year our Advice Service deals with thousands of calls from older people in need. Call us today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.

Call freephone 0808 808 7575
8am – 7pm 365 days a year


Last updated: Sep 11 2018

Become part of our story

Sign up today

Back to top