Being discharged from hospital after a fall or accident, is often the first time people hear about care needs assessments. For others, it may come as a referral from their GP. Or, from a friend who has noticed them struggle to care for themselves day-to-day. But what exactly is a care needs assessment and when do you need one?
This article will guide you through what a care assessment is and how to arrange one.
What is a care needs assessment?
In simple terms, a care needs assessment is an interview which works out what help a person needs to live safely.
The goal of the assessment is to accurately review a person’s care needs and recommend changes or services to support them. This can include:
• Home equipment like personal alarms, walk in showers, ramps etc
• Help from a paid in home carer for domestic chores or help with medication and dressings
• Access to day care centres
• Help with moving to a care home or nursing home
How to apply for a care needs assessment?
There are two ways to apply for a care needs assessment. Your GP can make a referral, or you can request one directly from your Local Authority through Social Services.
Sometimes, following a stay in hospital, an assessment notice will be given to the Local Authority as part of your discharge arrangements.
How does a care needs assessment work?
An occupational therapist - or someone from the Local Authority like a social worker - will contact you. Together, you will arrange a meeting. This can be face-to-face or over the phone.
This meeting is your opportunity to explain how well you manage at home. It’s useful to make notes beforehand, or have a friend or family member with you. Assessors will listen and want the best for you, but don’t assume they understand your situation.
How to prepare for a care needs assessment?
Detailed information is helpful for a care needs assessment. The assessor will follow a template of questions but will consider everything you tell them. Don’t downplay any struggles at home - these are considered your ‘presenting needs’ and form the basis of the assessment.
Describe tasks you find difficult such as:
Turning on taps, using a kettle
• Making meals, feeding yourself
• Getting washed, dressed and personal hygiene care
• Moving about your home like climbing stairs or getting out of bed
• Taking medication or changing dressings
• Doing domestic chores like washing, shopping and cleaning
Your needs assessment also considers how you care for your health, so ensure you explain the following:
• What medication you are taking
• Any ongoing health issues, like high blood pressure, diabetes
• Your memory and if you forget things
• How your mood is day-to-day
• What exercise you take and when
Don’t leave anything out as this may affect the outcome and what conclusions are drawn.
Think about your personal needs. Is it important to be in a care home near relatives? Do you need in-home carers at certain times of the day? If so, tell the assessor.
When will I get the results of the care needs assessment?
Most Local Authorities will send the results of a care needs assessment within two weeks. The report will outline the recommendations in a care plan. This might include:
• Recommendation for in home care from carers
• Recommendation for care home/ nursing home/ assisted living
• Alterations to your home
• Personal alarm systems
• Temporary intermediate care services to help your recover from injury or illness
This will be followed by a financial assessment to ascertain how the care will be paid for. Most people are expected to contribute to the cost of care and are means tested. There are strict care and support rules about assets, income, pensions and savings.
You can find more information about this in our guide to the cost of home care in the UK.