Assessing Care Needs

31 March 2012


One person’s care needs may vary enormously from another’s and it can be helpful to consider all the options at an early stage. These needs can also vary during periods of illness and can progress with the duration of time.

If you or your relatives think you require help with everyday living, for example shopping; cooking a hot meal, help getting in or out of bed, washing or dressing, local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland (as outlined in the National Health and Community Care Act 1990) have a duty of care to carry out a care needs assessment regardless of your or your relatives financial circumstances.


The needs assessment will look at your current situation and the support you have available to you or your relatives. Based on the assessment findings the need for certain services may be identified and the local authority will then identify how to provide these.

Even if Social Services’ assistance is not required at this stage, it may be useful to obtain information about help available should circumstances change in the future.

The various services available are covered by different parts of legislation and can vary from area to area. Local authorities will have a duty to provide some services, whereas others may be more discretionary and subject to a charge.

These services can range from home based help such as Meals on Wheels and equipment for the home, to residential care facilities. You should be provided with all the information you need to enable you or your family to make the most appropriate decision.

Information should also be provided regarding any relevant charging policies along with details of any means test that will be carried out to assess your or your relatives’ financial ability to pay. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how it works or about any local voluntary organisations that can provide further support and information.