What is a Care Needs Assessment?

A care needs assessment determines the type of social care and support required for your care and how best to access it. Typically conducted by the social services department of your local council, this assessment is a crucial step in understanding and addressing your unique care needs.

Regardless of your income, savings, or the council’s initial perception of your eligibility for assistance, the local council is obligated to provide a needs assessment if you appear to require care and support.

The assessment process varies in depth, depending on the complexity of your needs. It may involve a face-to-face visit, a phone call, or, in England, completing a self-assessment form—always with due consideration to your preferences.

This assessment allows you to engage with a trained professional, discussing the specific support you require. Your involvement is paramount throughout the process, ensuring that your preferences, challenges, and aspirations are considered.

Here, we explain some of the intricacies of the care needs assessment. Understanding the steps involved and the potential outcomes can help ensure you get the support you’re entitled to.


If you need help with day-to-day activities, your first step is to request a care needs assessment. A care needs assessment, often called a social care assessment, is a process mandated by your local council. A care needs assessment is free and anyone over 18 can ask for one.

This assessment is not something to worry about; it’s a structured and legal means of determining the support you require. Your preferences, such as staying in your home, are integral to the process. If certain care needs hinder your participation in activities outside the home, these considerations are carefully integrated into the assessment and subsequent care plan.

Ultimately, a care needs assessment is designed to empower your voice, ensuring that you receive the tailored support necessary for a fulfilling and manageable life.


Contact social services at your local council and ask them for a needs assessment. Explain to them that you need help managing your daily activities like washing, cooking or dressing. You can also call them or apply online.

If you need emergency support, your local council can put services in place before the needs assessment.

Apply for a needs assessment on GOV.UK.


During the care needs assessment, a representative from your local council, such as a social worker, occupational therapist, or care specialist, will meet with you to understand how you manage everyday tasks. Here’s what typically occurs:

  1. A discussion about daily living:

You’ll be asked about your ability to handle routine activities like dressing, cooking or moving around your home. Describing how well you perform specific tasks, such as preparing lunch or getting out of a chair, provides valuable insights into your care needs.

It can be helpful to prepare a list of areas where you need help beforehand. If you have concerns that go up or down, make sure to list everything you need help with during particularly challenging days. List anything you need help with, even if it appears minor, such as turning taps on or off. Asking family or friends about concerns they’ve noticed can also give you insights into ways in which you may benefit from extra support.

  1. Home alterations assessment:

If it appears that alterations in and around your home, like grab bars in the bathroom or bed rails, may be beneficial, the assessor could refer you for a separate home assessment. This assessment is a comprehensive evaluation of your living environment to determine whether there are accommodations which could increase your independence.

  1. How the assessment takes place:

The needs assessment can take place face-to-face, over the phone, or online, providing flexibility to accommodate individual preferences. Assessments typically last at least an hour.

  1. Your opportunity to share:

This is your chance to express your challenges. Provide detailed information about all the everyday tasks you find challenging, including seemingly minor activities like turning taps on and off. Your input significantly influences the care recommendations.

  1. Support from others:

Consider having a friend or family member present during the assessment to assist in explaining how your condition affects you. This additional perspective can ensure a more comprehensive understanding of your needs.

  1. Advocacy services:

Advocates can act on your behalf if you find it challenging to navigate the care process or articulate your concerns. These individuals can support you in understanding and expressing your needs. Contact social services at your local council to ask about advocacy services.


Following the needs assessment, the local council will communicate the results to you. This involves detailing the type of care and support identified as beneficial for you, whether it’s the assistance of a paid carer or services like meals delivered to your home (Meals on Wheels).


The assessment outcome determines whether, in principle, you qualify for care and support. This decision is based on comparing your care needs with nationally agreed criteria that all local councils must adhere to.

You will generally qualify for care and support if you:

  • have a mental or physical need, an illness,
  • are unable to achieve two or more everyday tasks (referred to as ‘eligibility outcomes’),
  • you have care needs that significantly impact your well-being due to a lack of necessary support.

If you qualify for local council care services and support, the next step usually involves a financial assessment. This assessment determines if you are required to contribute to the cost of the care and if so, to what extent.


If your local council informs you that you don’t qualify for support due to perceived insufficient care needs, you have the right to appeal this decision. To initiate an appeal:

Ask your local council for a written explanation of their assessment and the basis for their decision. This document should outline the rationale behind the determination of your eligibility. Carefully review the written explanation provided by the local council. Ensure that you understand the criteria applied and how your specific needs were assessed.

If, after reading the explanation, you remain dissatisfied with the decision, reach out to your local council and clearly express why you believe the decision is unfair or inaccurate. They should guide you through the complaints process and provide the necessary information to pursue a resolution.

Even if you are not deemed eligible for support, the local council is responsible for providing you with valuable information and advice on alternative sources of help. This includes guidance on accessing assistance from charities or other local organisations. This information should be tailored to your individual needs.


At Prestige Nursing & Care, we have been helping families up and down the country understand how they can finance care, whether through available funding or financing initiatives that can contribute to the cost of care.

If you are eligible for social care funding or if you already have funding for social care in place, we can provide impartial support and guidance on how you can arrange home care for yourself or a loved one.

The personal budget you receive will show how much the council is paying towards your care. This may be enough to cover some or all of the cost of receiving care in your own home. We can provide a care package tailored to your unique care needs and preferences while considering your budget and future care costs.

Do not hesitate to call one of our friendly care experts to discuss the next steps in arranging quality care at home.

We are here to take your call and will provide impartial support and guidance – contact our friendly care experts today to discuss your care needs.

0808 239 1525


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