Whether you are someone who may need care or someone who is currently a carer you have the right to ask your local council to assess your needs. The assessment aims to find out if you are having any difficulties and if you are, to help you access appropriate services.
There are two types of assessment, a Care Needs Assessment and a Carers Assessment
Care Needs Assessment
A 'Care Needs Assessment' or 'Care Assessment' is used to look at what an individual's needs are and to look at how they could be met in the future. This is the first step that a Local Authority will take in deciding whose responsibility it is to provide any care or support needed. You should be aware that you may have to answer more than one set of questions before the Council make a decision as to whether you are eligible for any assistance, and this may be from different people at different times.
Carers Needs Assessment
This is to help see how the Carer is managing and whether they need any additional support. Although the carer might not be eligible for specific support themselves; it may mean that the person they care for gets some additional services which, in turn helps the carer to cope. Similarly, a carer may qualify for some assistance even if the person being cared for does not.
Tips for preparing for a Care Assessment
- Before your assessment think about, and make notes of things that are important to you in your life, what stops you achieving them, and what you hope to get from the assessment.
- Go through our Care Needs Helper, this will give you a good idea of what you will be asked about. You should try think of personal examples of each of the elements, this will help to show how you meet the Local Authorities criteria.
- Speak to your friends and family and ask them what they think you need help with, alternatively if you are a friend, carer or family member who is concerned about someone and you have requested the Care Needs Assessment, you should make a list of what the individual can and can't do, and what they need help with.
- Remember that every day is not the same, and that sometimes it is much harder to do things than it is on other days, so when you're asked whether you, or the person you care for, can do something consider what it's like on a bad day as well as on the day you're being asked.
- Remember with some disabilities or infirmities things can get worse, so when you're answering questions don't just answer for today, think about what it will be like in a couple of months time.
- Local Authorities have a duty to meet unmet need for those who meet their eligibility criteria. This means that if you have someone at the Care Needs Assessment who, in trying to be helpful, says things like "well x can't dress themselves, but I can always do that" then the need has been met and the Local Authority don't need to do anything about it.
- Nobody has to have the Care Needs Assessment on their own; family, friends, carers and other professionals that the Service User wants their can also come and give their views.
- Be as open as possible and don't try and put a brave face on it - say how things really are, for example many individuals say that they can use the toilet on their own, but what they forget to say is that they can't actually get to the toilet without assistance.
Even if you don't meet the Local Authorities criteria they should still provide you with information on how you can access other support or purchase your own support. You're the Boss has put together some further information that might help you in our Keeping Your Independence.
Tips for preparing for your Carers Assessment
If you are having a Carers Assessment and a Care Assessment, then it may be beneficial to request for them to be held separately. Many Local Authorities like to hold them together and generally will have the same people staying in the room. It can be really difficult for a Carer to explain exactly their situation if the person that they care for is still in the room. Many carers don't want the person that they care for to know just how difficult or stressful it is for them and so downplay the situation if that person is within earshot.
- Over the few weeks before the meeting, whether you are a carer, family member or someone who needs care, you should start making notes of things that important to you in your life.
- Keep a diary of everything that you have to do for the person that you care for, it's really easy to forget things when you're speaking to the Care Manager so having it all written down will act as a great prompt.
- Think about what you want, you don't have to provide all the care for someone and it may be that if you said 'no' to providing elements then the person that you care for could be eligible for some Local Authority Support (try our Care Needs Helper).
- Think about, and write down, whether you are feeling stressed, whether you have any support, whether you get any time for yourself.
- Is your caring role taking its toll on your health and if so how?
- Whether you are able to work or if would you like to work, is the caring role stopping you from doing this?
- Whether you are claiming all of the benefits that you are entitled to, or would you like someone to review them for you to check you're claiming everything you are entitled to?
Many of the Carers Support agencies can support you in preparing for your Carers Needs Assessment and our sources of advice and information can help you find one local to you.
After the assessment the Care Manager should make sure that you receive a copy of what was agreed. Take time to review what's written here and clarify points. Once you're happy that everything that was agreed has been written in the document then sign it. If you don't agree with the assessment then don't sign it and ask for elements to be changed.
Once you have been through the Care Needs Assessment, or the Carers Assessment then, if you meet the eligibility criteria (often called FACS criteria) then you will have to go through the Financial Assessment. This will determine whether you have to contribute or pay for any care services yourself or if it will be funded by the Local Authority. For an indication of whether you are likely to get financial support take our Funding Checker.