Preparing for your assessment

A care needs assessment is your chance to explain what your difficulties are and what support you would like. The person carrying out the assessment can only consider the needs that come up during the assessment so it’s really important that you give them the full picture and don’t downplay your situation. Prepare in advance by gathering information and think about any questions you want to ask.

Each council has its own assessment process and they should give you information about this, including a copy of the questions they will ask you. If necessary, they should provide information in an accessible format, such as large print or translated material.

What happens at the assessment

A trained care professional will ask you about your current situation, for example what tasks or activities you can do by yourself, with some difficulty, or activities you can’t do at all. The assessment should look at all aspects of your life - emotional, psychological and physical. You must be involved throughout, and your views and wishes must be taken into account as well as your needs.

If possible, it’s a good idea to have someone with you during the assessment, such as a relative, friend or carer. You can also ask for other people who play a part in your care to be involved, for example a care worker, a sheltered housing warden or GP. The council must involve anyone you have told them about in advance. You can tell them in person, on the phone or by writing to them before the assessment. If you have difficulty communicating or understanding information you may be able to get help from an independent advocate.

What the council considers

The aim of the assessment is to work out whether you can do certain things. These are called care outcomes and include your ability to:

  • prepare and eat food without help and get enough to drink
  • wash yourself and clean your clothes
  • use a toilet and manage all your toilet needs
  • dress yourself properly
  • move around your home safely
  • keep your home safe and habitable
  • have enough contact with other people
  • take part in activities, like volunteering, training or learning
  • use services such as public transport and local shops
  • carry out any caring responsibilities you have for a child.

The assessor must look at all these outcomes and each one is equally important. They can’t just look at eating, drinking and washing, for example. They should only look at what you can or can’t do by yourself and ignore any help you may be getting from a friend or relative.

If your needs often change, the care professional may have to visit you more than once to make sure all your needs are properly assessed over time.

How you qualify for care

To be eligible for support from the council you need to show that your difficulties have a big impact on your life and wellbeing. Your needs assessment must show that you answered ‘yes’ to all three of the following questions:

  • Is your need for support because of a physical or mental impairment or illness?
  • Are you unable to achieve two or more of the care outcomes?
  • Could this have a significant impact on your wellbeing?

It’s important that you fully explain your situation during your assessment so the impact on your life is clear.

What does wellbeing include?

Wellbeing covers a lot of different areas, including:

  • being treated with dignity and respect
  • personal relationships (such as whether you need more social contact)
  • physical and mental health
  • safety
  • having enough money to live on
  • housing
  • control over your daily life.

If your care needs could have a big effect on at least one of these, or if they have a small effect on several areas of wellbeing, this could be considered a significant impact on your wellbeing as a whole.

Helpful tips

To get the best out of your assessment:

  • make sure you mention all your needs
  • don’t be afraid of asking questions if anything is unclear
  • be honest about your situation
  • keep a diary so you can tell the assessor about your needs on a bad day as well as a good day
  • make a list before the assessment so you can remember what you want to say
  • if you think the assessment didn’t go well, contact social services to ask them to look at the assessment again.

What happens next?

After your assessment, social services must give a copy of the assessment notes to you, and to carers and anyone else you request – ask if you don’t get one. If you qualify for support, social services will then work out how best to meet your needs.

Most people have to contribute towards the cost of their care so you’ll also have a financial assessment to work out how much you’ll have to pay. If the council will be paying for some or all of your care or they are arranging care on your behalf, they should develop a written care and support plan with you.

The council will let you know if you don’t meet the criteria for care and support. You can ask for a review if you’re not happy with their assessment or you could consider making a complaint. They must also give you information and advice to help you cope with your situation, for example by telling you about other local services that may be able to help you and how to prevent your needs from getting worse.

Next steps

To request a care needs assessment, go to

For more help throughout the assessment process, see our checklists:

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