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How can I request a social care needs assessment? Task

It is possible to request a needs assessment for yourself, on behalf of someone else, or a hospital can make a referral.

A social care needs assessment is needed before a local council can recommend any services, such as day centres, provide equipment, for instance walking frames, or any changes made to your home.

A request for a social care needs assessment is made by contacting, by phone or online, the social services department of the local authority.

Details for local authorities, in England and Wales, can be found here. 

The assessment is free, will be undertaken by a social worker, occupational therapist, or other qualified professional.  It will take place either face to face or by telephone and should take about an hour to complete.  The local authority will inform you when, approximately, the assessment will take place but should normally be four to six weeks. 

To be eligible for social care support, you will need to show that your needs arise from health problems.  These include, 

  • mental health 
  • physical ill-health
  • disability
  • learning and cognitive disability or 
  • alcohol/drug dependence.  

As a result of these health problems, you are unable to do certain things.  For example, 

  • eating/drinking 
  • maintaining personal hygiene
  • managing toilet needs 
  • being dressed appropriately 
  • using your home safely
  • keeping your home clean,
  • able to develop and maintain family or other relationships,
  • accessing and engaging in education/work/training/volunteering 
  • using local community services including public transport and leisure facilities
  • carrying out any childcare responsibilities.

In England, you need to demonstrate that you are unable to achieve two of the above.

Being unable to do any of the above, can also include needing help to carry out a task, someone needs to remind you to do an activity, you are able to do something but it takes longer than would normally be expected or it causes you pain, anxiety or distress or puts you/others around you in danger.

Finally, as a result of being unable to manage to do certain things, there will be, or likely to be a major impact on your wellbeing

To prepare for the assessment give some thought to what you consider your needs are and what type of support may help. 

What outcome would you like from the assessment?
Do you have any medical problems?
Are you taking any medication?
Do you have problems with mobility, sight, hearing, memory?
Are you able to look after your home?
Is your home suitable for your needs? 

Help is available by telephone from your local social services department, 

Age UK’s free helpline on 0800 055 6112,

Independent Age’s free helpline on 0800 319 6789 or

The Family Rights Group’s free helpline on 0808 801 0366.

At the assessment you will be asked how you are managing everyday tasks such as washing, dressing, cooking, making a cup of tea and getting out of a chair.  If any changes need to be made to your home then you may be referred for an assessment of your home.  Give as much detail as you can, especially if there are days where some daily activities are harder than others.

It may be useful to have a relative, friend with you during the assessment.  They can take notes and explain your situation.  If no one is available you can ask for an advocate to support you.

You should get the assessment results in about a week and the results will identify the kind of help or support that could assist you.  You will be expected to pay for any social care you need, and a financial assessment will be arranged.  The local council may contribute to the cost of any care you need.

A care/support plan will be agreed upon with you and will be reviewed yearly to assess any changes or the need for other services.  The care plan can be reviewed more often, if necessary.

If the results show that the local authority does not consider that you qualify for any help or support, they should advise you where you can get help from the community.  You can ask for this information if it is not given.

You have the right to complain if you are unhappy with the result of the assessment or how it was carried out.  Your complaint should be made, firstly, to the local council.  The council should have a formal complaints procedure. 

If you remain unhappy with how the local council have managed your objection, then you can forward your complaint to an independent person, an ombudsman.  The ombudsman will investigate your objection. 

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman can be found here.