First Steps

The First Step - Getting a Care Assessment

If you feel that you need more help at home, or more support to help with daily tasks, a Health and Social care assessment is the first step towards getting the help you need. Often called an “Assessment of Need” or a “Care Assessment”, they are organised through the Social Services department of your local council. Services you may need can include healthcare, help in the home or residential care.

How do I get a care assessment?
You need to contact the social services department at your local council. Explain that you need some help at home and ask for a care assessment. You will not be charged for the assessment and you have a right to a care assessment no matter what your ability is to pay for the care you may need. You are also entitled to a care assessment if you are a carer.

Can I get an assessment immediately?
It depends on how urgent your needs are and how your local council prioritises your requirements. If you need minor adaptations to your home, they may be deemed less urgent than if you cannot get out of bed without help. If your needs are high and you are at risk, you should be seen as a priority case.

Who will assess me?
The assessment will be carried out by someone from your local authority Social Services department. More than one person could be involved in carrying out the assessment, including a social worker, a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist. They will come to your home, as your needs cannot be assessed over the phone or by letter.

If you have a carer, it is a good idea to have them present at your care assessment. The level of care they provide shouldn’t be taken for granted by the assessor and it is often helpful for the carer to be able to say what level of help they are willing or able to provide. It is also helpful to have your carer or a relative present just to give support or to remind you of things you may have forgotten.

What happens at an assessment?
The care assessment will involve talking to you, your partner, your carer or relative about the type of care and level of support that you need. This will include things like your health, how you are currently coping at home and what are the things you are struggling with.

It is likely that you will not have met the person doing the assessment before, so it is helpful if you can give then as much detail as possible, even if you think its not vital. Prepare beforehand by keeping a diary for a few days and noting all the things you need help with. Be realistic and think about the bad days as well as the good ones – the care assessment is to help and support you.

After the assessment, you will be given a written copy which you may be asked to sign. Read it carefully or get someone else to read it to you. You can add notes if there is anything you don’t agree with, or you can refuse to sign it.

Who decides what care I receive?
The care assessment will show the level of care that you need, but your personal wishes should be taken into account when deciding on what type of care you will receive. If you wish to stay in your own home, the council should make every effort to ensure that your wishes are respected. If your needs are at a level at which the council are prepared to help, they may also want to carry out a financial assessment, to determine how much of the care the council will fund. See our information on Paying for Care, for more details.

What if my needs change?
After your initial care assessment, you will be given the contact details of the person who is responsible for your care services, called your care manager. They will provide you with a care plan which sets out which services are being provided, when and by whom. Your care manager should regularly check that you are happy with your care and that your requirements haven’t changed, but you can ask to get re-assessed at any time if you feel that the care provided no longer meets your needs.

Contact your Local Authority in:




Northern Ireland

Written for yourcarehome - author: Mark Sadler

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