If you are finding it difficult to manage at home, you can have an assessment of your needs carried out by the social services department to see what care and support you may require. This is known as a ‘needs assessment’.
What is a ‘needs assessment’?
A ‘needs assessment’ is a review of your personal circumstances, carried out by your council’s social services department. Social services will look at what your care and support needs are and consider how these affect your day-to-day living. They should talk to you about what your goals are, what matters most to you and help you work out ways in which to make you more independent and make life easier for you. For example, they might recommend:
- getting some special equipment for your home, such as a stairlift
- getting some help with household tasks, such as cooking and cleaning
- getting some help with personal care, such as washing and dressing
- moving to new accommodation where you can receive more help and support.
Who can get a ‘needs assessment’?
Anyone who needs care and support can get a ‘needs assessment’. You might:
- be physically disabled
- have a learning disability
- have a mental health problem
- have a chronic illness
- be dependent on drugs or alcohol
- be an older person.
What if I have a carer?
If you have a carer, for example a family member or friend who looks after you in your home, they can have their needs assessed too . The social services department will consider what can be done to support them and whether they need to have breaks from caring for you.
You can find out more about getting support if you are a carer on the Carers UK website. Carers Wales have developed a factsheet on getting a carers assessment in Wales.
How do I get a ‘needs assessment’?
You should contact your local council and ask to speak to the social services department. You can find contact details for your council’s social services department on your council’s website. You can also ask your GP to make a referral for an assessment. If you are in hospital, you can ask the hospital social work team to request an assessment.
You can find out details of support available in your area, including your local social services department, here.
What happens at the assessment?
In order to carry out the assessment, someone from social services and possibly someone from the housing or health department will:
- visit you and your family or carer (if appropriate) to talk about your needs and what kind of help you would like
- find out what you can and cannot do for yourself
- talk to your doctor, occupational therapist or other medical professionals, if you agree to this.
The social services department should keep in touch with you while the assessment is being carried out.
How long will it take to get an assessment?
There is no time limit for carrying out assessments so, depending on your situation, you may have to wait before you are seen. If you are in an emergency situation (for example, if you are severely disabled and do not have a carer), you should be assessed urgently and services can be provided while this takes place. If your situation worsens while you’re waiting for an assessment, let social services know – they may move you up the waiting list.
Once the assessment has been carried out, you may have another wait before you get the services that have been recommended. If you have urgent needs, you should start receiving services immediately.
What happens next?
Once the social services department has assessed your situation, they should draw up a care and support plan for you. This will set out:
- what kind of care or support you need
- who will provide the services you need
- when they will be provided.
You are entitled to a written copy of the assessment and the care and support plan, so don’t be afraid to ask for one if it is not offered to you.
Will I have to leave my home?
If you want to stay in your home rather than move into supported accommodation, social services should do their best to help you do so by:
- recommending special equipment and adaptations that can be carried out at your home to make it easier for you to get around
- arranging for you to be provided with support or care at home.
If it is not possible to adapt your home so that it is suitable for your needs, or to provide you with the care you require at home, your housing options could include:
What if I’m not happy with the assessment?
If you are unhappy with the way the needs assessment has been carried out, or with the outcome of the assessment, there are several steps you can take:
- first, try speaking to the social work department to sort things out
- if you’re still not satisfied, your council should have a complaints procedure you can use
- if this is unsuccessful, you could consider complaining to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
If want to make a complaint, get advice first. Contact Shelter Cymru or Citizens Advice.
How do I pay for the services?
Help is available for paying for care and support charges. Once social services have decided on the equipment or services you need, they will either:
- arrange to provide these for you, or
- arrange for you to receive direct payments, so you can organise and pay for your own services.
Depending on your income and savings, and on the charging policy of your council, you may have to pay for some or all of these services yourself.