needs assessments

Local authority care and support needs assessments

Getting assessed

Local authorities are obliged to undertake a care and support needs assessment for your elderly parents (for both the carer and the one being cared for, if relevant) regardless of their finances or perceived eligibility.  As part of the efforts to join up health and social care, the assessment focuses on meeting their needs rather than simply providing services.  With a care and support assessment in place, it is hoped that people and their carers will feel more in control and able to better focus on prevention and well-being rather than crisis intervention.

We have set out the key things you need to know below – the language of care is sometimes a bit dense – so we’ve tried to untangle it but it’s useful to know what specific things are called/referred to in local-authority speak so you know what you’re looking for.

Key Things You Should Know

  • Assessment for your parents/relatives

A national framework now exists that every council must use, and it focusses the assessment on eligible needs.   Local authorities have a responsibility to ensure the integration of care and support with health and health-related services, including housing.  People will be assessed on the basis of their general wellbeing and not just their personal care needs, and will be based on three tests:

  • If the needs arise from a physical or mental impairment or illness
  • If your parent is unable to achieve two or more of the specified “care outcomes” (see below)
  • If there is likely to be a significant impact on their well-being.

This care and support assessment may be prepared by a person or organisation to whom the Authority has outsourced the task, but the primary requirement is that this report is done, following a review of the person and any other information, such as medical records or data provided by the carer.  Also  – please note that – included is an obligation on the local authority to ensure that the person under assessment is able to involve their spouse/carer/relative fully in the assessment process.  Plus – all of the individuals needs should be recorded as part of the assessment, regardless of whether these needs will be met by the local authority according to criteria.

Our advice is to be with your elderly parent for the assessment if you possibly can.  Not only can you help avoid the “stiff upper lip” approach that some parents may take, minimising or downplaying their health/care issues for the  needs assessment,  but you can ensure that it covers all your parent’s health and social care needs.

The ‘care outcomes’ that the local authority will consider are:

  • Managing and maintaining nutrition
  • Maintaining personal hygiene
  • Managing toilet needs
  • Being appropriately clothed
  • Being able to make use of the adult’s home safely
  • Maintaining a habitable home environment
  • Developing and maintaining family or other personal relationships
  • Accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering
  • Making use of local community facilities or services including public transport
  • Caring out any caring resonsibilities the adult has for a child

Following the assessment and If the criteria are met, the Authority must produce a detailed plan and a personal budget.  The local authority must also provide information on what care is available and how to access these services, even if it will not be provided by the local authority. It will not be enough for the Authority to say that this information is available on its website, but must ensure that it is accessible to anyone with particular needs.

  • What you should do now

Any relative or carer of any adult with needs should contact their local GP or health centre to find out who is responsible for the preparation of the crucial care and support needs assessment in their area.  Armed with this the stress and strain of helping an elderly relative or friend should be much more straightforward. Remember, the primary responsibility on local authorities is not to provide “services” but to meet the needs of the adults in their area.

For more general information, the Which Guide has excellent information about the care and needs assessment .