It is essential that before a person begins to receive a care service or moves into a home their full needs are known and that the service is confident that it can meet those needs.

Since April 2015, a person’s needs for care and support arranged by a local authority in England have been assessed under the Care Act 2014.

Local authority funding of care will then be decided on a financial (means-tested) assessment, which is carried out after the needs assessment has shown that the person has met national eligibility criteria. Funded care is strictly rationed and many people are having to fund or part fund their own care and support.

In Wales needs assessments are carried out under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. The main difference there is that once eligible needs have been assessed and agreed any costs to the service user are capped.

In Scotland needs assessments follow national standard eligibility guidance developed in 2015. There is an integrated approach to assessing health and care needs. Eligible personal and nursing care needs are met free of charge, with charges made against accommodation and living costs.

In all UK countries, assessments are outcome-based, ie their conclusions will reflect what care and support a person requires to improve their wellbeing.

Assessment of need should be continuous. Care providers must assess how they will deliver their services to meet individual needs, keep reviewing a person’s needs and change their provision as needs change.

Local authority needs assessments have had to be modified during the Covid-19 emergency. Government guidance has been issued with the Care Act “easements” to allow local authorities make the necessary adjustments to their policies and procedures.

This topic should be used with that on Care and Support Plans

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