what i s an assessment of need?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Disabled Parents Network : One Thread

I am interested in people's definitions of assessment of need. What is this assessment and how do you go about getting one if you have become disabled recently?

-- Anonymous, February 01, 2002


Needs Assessments from Social Services

Adults with a disability in England and Wales are entitled to an assessment of their needs by social services under the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 and the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986.

Once needs have been identified, social services then have an obligation to address these needs.

Social Services may meet the needs they have identified with direct services or with a sum of money called a direct payment.

Social services can say they are not going to meet some needs because they have limited resources. Each area's department has slightly different criteria to determine what needs they are prepared to meet but every area is the same in that they have to assess disabled people who ask them to.

Getting an assessment

To get the ball rolling, you need to ring your local social services department and ask to be put through to someone in the relevant team e.g. physical disabilities, learning disabilities, sensory or mental health team.

Once you get through to that department, explain that you are referring yourself for a needs assessment under Section 4 of the Disabled Persons Act 1986.

You may be put through to a duty social worker or someone in an intake or screening team, it differs in each area, but you should be able to speak to someone there and then.

The person you speak to should ask for some basic details and will probably ask what you think your needs are so it's a good idea to be prepared with a brief list of the main issues e.g. getting up and down the stairs.

If you mention your child/ children, you may be told, "We don't deal with childcare" and told to contact the children and families team.

Don't allow yourself to be passed around like this. The assessment is about looking at your needs, including your needs as a parent, not about looking at your child's needs. Be clear and consistent that you want the adult team to come and do a formal assessment.

In theory, a phone call should be enough to get the process moving fairly quickly. In reality, however, social services departments are very busy and you may get fobbed off with talk of full in trays and long waiting lists.

This isn't acceptable so press for an idea of how long you will have to wait to be assessed.

If the time they are giving seems unreasonable, you could write a letter to the department and to the director of social services or ask someone to do this on your behalf.

The letter should repeat your request for an assessment and emphasise that you expect to be assessed in a reasonable amount of time.

Make sure you put the date on your letter and keep a copy of it.

Any supporting letters you can send e.g. a letter from your GP, health visitor or specialist stating how your impairment affects you, will help to speed up the process.

The Assessment

It is a good idea to be well prepared for the assessment by thinking in more detail about what your needs are.

If the effects of your impairment differ from day to day, it may be useful to think about one of your more difficult days to give the social worker a clear picture of your needs.

It is also useful to think about what solutions you think would help to meet your needs e.g. a support worker for a couple of hours a day or having a lift installed plus some domestic help three mornings a week.

The assessment should take place in your home at a time that is convenient to you. The assessment should be holistic, looking at you as a whole person and addressing all of your needs including the needs that arise from your parenting role.

Some social workers suggest that their department only looks at personal care needs or domestic help but this isn't really true. All needs should be looked at even if it isn't within the department's criteria to meet some of those needs.

You may find it useful to have someone with you during the assessment who understands about your need for support. This might be a family member or friend, or an advocate.

If your partner or another relative or friend offers you a lot of support, or if they do much more in the house or with the children because of your disability, they have a right to be assessed at the same time as you under the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995.

When the assessment is done, the social worker should write it up and send it to you so that you can agree what has been said. The social worker should then discuss with you what support could be provided.

You may be asked to pay some money towards the support you are being offered. You will not be asked to do this until a financial assessment has been done.

A financial assessment looks at the money you have coming in to see if it is reasonable to ask you to pay for services.

Once a package of support has been agreed, the social worker should write this up in a care plan and send a copy to you. This should be done even if only a very small amount of support is offered such as one hour of help in the house per week.

Other referrals can also be made at this stage such as a referral to an 0. T who would be able to look at the possibility of adapting your home e.g. installing a stair-lift, or providing you with equipment which helps to meet your needs.

I hope that this doesn't sound too negative and intimidating! The assessment process can be stressful but it is the route to getting the advice and support that you are entitled to.

We have some written information about preparing for assessments at the National Centre for Disabled Parents that we can send to you if you would like.

If you have any difficulties with this procedure or any other questions, you are welcome to get in touch with the National Centre for Disabled Parents on:

Voice 0800 018 4730 Text 0800 018 9949 Fax 0207 263 6399

-- Anonymous, February 20, 2002

Moderation questions? read the FAQ