In this blog, charity Independent Age explains how best to get your mum – or dad – a care assessment long distance…
It can be difficult to provide the help you want to when you’re living a long way away, but there are still ways you can support your mum through this process. It’s not unusual for people to request assessments for a family member, so you should be able to get things started.
Care assessments are arranged by local councils, so you’ll need to contact the council where your mum lives. You can search for their details at gov.uk/find-your-local-council or check in the phone book. You’ll need to contact the adult social care department of the council.
If your mum is able to make and communicate decisions, make sure you discuss the assessment with her in advance and get her consent to call the council on her behalf. You’ll need to have your mum’s details to hand, such as her address, date of birth, GP’s contact details and NHS number. You might also be asked for some details of her state of health and any difficulties she has with daily life at this point.
Councils have to give a care assessment to anyone who appears to need support. Assessments might involve a face-to-face visit, telephone call or a self-assessment form. If your mum would prefer not to complete a self-assessment form or have a telephone assessment, she has a right to ask for a face-to-face assessment instead.
You or another friend or relative can attend your mum’s assessment with her, if she wants you to. She can also ask for other people, like her GP, to be involved. If she asks for this, then the council has a duty to involve this person. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be present at the assessment – they might be consulted over the phone or in writing.
If your mum finds it very difficult to communicate, or to understand or retain information, and you or another friend or relative can’t be there to represent her, then the council has to arrange an independent advocate for her. This applies whether she’s having a face-to-face-assessment or filling in a self-assessment form. An independent advocate is a trained person, independent of social services, who will help your mother express her views and wishes, and make sure she has all the information she needs and understands it. This might include supporting her to speak for herself or speaking on her behalf if she wants that.
If you can’t accompany your mum to her care assessment, you can still help her to prepare for it. Ask the council to provide a list of the questions they’ll ask in advance – they should do this. Use these to chat to her about the problems she has with day-to-day living, and about anything she’d like to be doing but currently can’t because of her health difficulties or disability. You could encourage her to make a list of these things to make sure she remembers to mention them at the assessment. If she has good days and bad days, it might be worth her keeping a diary to get an accurate picture of what her needs are. Assessors will only take into account needs that come up during the assessment, so if your mum forgets to mention something, she might be assessed as being more capable than she really is.
The council will use national rules to work out whether your mum qualifies for support. This is just based on her needs, not her income – if she does qualify, there’ll be a separate financial assessment to work out whether she has to pay for this support. Whether or not your mum can receive help from the council, she should be given a copy of her assessment. If she does qualify, the council should put together a care plan for her, explaining what her needs are and how these will be met. She should be involved in putting this plan together, and you, another friend or relative, or an independent advocate, can also be involved in this. If your mum doesn’t receive a copy of her care plan, make sure she asks for this, so she can check it’s accurate and that she’s getting the correct care and support.
The Independent Age factsheet Assessment and care services from your local council in England has more information, or contact the Independent Age Helpline on 0800 319 6789 to speak to an adviser.