Social Services will carry out a community care assessment of your relative’s needs. This could include information, advice and services, which can be provided by the local authority. You can then choose whether to buy some of these services directly, or whether to go through your local authority.
An assessment will look at your relative’s needs and recommend the appropriate services. Normally, an assessment is required before any services can be provided by the social services department of a local authority, but if the need is urgent, the local authority can provide help without carrying out the assessment. The local authority uses the community care assessment to decide whether a person needs a community care service and, if they do, whether it can be provided by the local authority. The assessment should provide certain basic information and a care plan should be drawn up. A wide range of services could be needed, from aids and adaptations in the person’s own home, to care workers, or residential care. Decisions made as a result of these assessments can be challenged
Local authorities have a duty to assess a person who may be in need of community care services. They may need services because of serious illness, physical disability, learning disability, mental health problems, or frailty due to old age. The local authority is obliged to carry out a community care assessment when they become aware that someone may be in need of community care services. This may mean that an assessment is offered even if you, or the person you look after, have not specifically requested one Alternatively, you, or the person you look after, can contact your local social services department and ask them to arrange a community care assessment
The assessment can be arranged through:
The purpose of the assessment is to find out what the person’s needs and circumstances are and what support they need. It is good practice for individuals and their carers to be fully involved in their own assessments and care planning.. The person seeking support should be at the centre of the decision-making process that determines what services they need from the local authority and how their needs will be met. This is referred to as ‘personalisation’.
The person in need may be asked to complete a questionnaire about their needs, which is often called a ‘self-assessment’ and can be part of the process of a fuller assessment. People with dementia can be given assistance when filling in self-assessment forms, to ensure that all of their needs are considered.
A single assessment procedure ensures that older people’s needs for community care services, health care and any other services, such as housing, will be assessed using just one procedure, although it may be spread over several visits.This should lessen the need for repeat assessments and for the same questions to be asked by different agencies. It should also enable professionals from different backgrounds to get a fuller picture of the person, and to work together closely to ensure that the person receives the best possible care. In reality, this is not always the case as communication and services are not always as integrated as they should be, so as a carer you may need to get involved and chase the parties concerned. Continual chasing may be the only way your relative will get the care they need
The assessment is often carried out in the person’s home, as this gives a clearer picture of how they are coping and what support they need If the assessment is arranged elsewhere, it should be somewhere that is convenient for the person being assessed and for their carer. If the person being assessed is in hospital, the local authority may also arrange for an assessor to visit their home to get a better idea of their situation before they are discharged.
The local authority social services department is responsible for coordinating the assessment, but other professionals, such as doctors, nurses or representatives from other agencies or organisations may also provide information, or take part. The assessment may be completed in one visit or, if there are more complex needs, spread over several weeks
Once a local authority has established that there is a need to provide a community care service, they have a duty to provide that service. The local authority should not refuse to provide the service on the grounds of cost, although if there is more than one option it is allowed to choose the most cost-effective one
Respite care may be beneficial to you and the person you’re looking after. In some areas, respite care is provided by your local authority as a result of an assessment on you as a carer. In other areas, access to respite care is provided through a community care assessment of the person you’re looking after. Ideally, it is better if both parties are assessed. The local authority will consider what help you need and decide which community care services it will provide to help you
If the person has a complaint, it is advisable to try to sort it out with the person they have contact with, such as the assessor, or care manager There may simply have been a failure in communication, or a misunderstanding that can be easily rectified. However, if this is not successful, there is a local authority complaints procedure. The local authority will explain how to use this.
If the local authority complaints procedure does not resolve the issue either, you can take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman at www.lgo.org.uk