For Families and Carers : Asking for a Needs Assessment

This information is for people who support an adult over 18 in England who has Down’s syndrome.

Most people with Down’s syndrome will need some level of support to live a full life within their community. Needs Assessments look at the needs a person has and determines whether they are entitled to assistance from the local authority. If the person you support has needs for care and support you may wish to help them to request a Needs Assessment. This information explains how a Needs Assessment should work. You can also call the DSA helpline if you have further questions about assessments.

What is the Care Act (2014)?

The Care Act (2014) sets out the way local authorities must work when assessing and meeting the care and support needs of their local population. Local authorities the things the person themselves wishes to achieve from their day-to-day life and whether the provision of support is necessary to enable them to meet these goals and maintain or improve their wellbeing.

Local authorities must also consider the Care and Support Statutory Guidance when assessing people’s needs and providing support and services. This can be found here.

Who can have a Needs Assessment?

There is a low trigger for local authorities to offer an assessment of need. The underlying principle is until an assessment has taken place it is not possible for a local authority to determine if a person has needs for care or support. Therefore when it ‘appears to a local authority that an adult may have needs for care and support’ the local authority must undertake a Needs Assessment.

What support might be available following an assessment?

A Needs Assessment may result in support or services for the person you support. The support offered to the person following a Needs Assessment might be:

  • Practical help in the home, for example, with cleaning or gardening
  • Adaptations for the home
  • Extra support to access the community, health and leisure facilities or to attend appointments
  • Domiciliary care (care at home)

Depending on the assessment, the person’s situation and their aspirations for their own day-to-day life care and support may be provided through:

  • Support staff working with the person where they currently live
  • Supported Living arrangements
  • Residential Care
  • Shared Lives placements
  • Intentional Communities (Supportive communities where members usually hold common social, religious or spiritual views and share responsibilities and resources)

Depending on your circumstances you may also wish to request an Adult Carer’s Needs Assessment for yourself at the same time. See our information about Carers Assessments (insert link)

What is a Needs Assessment?

The local authority will use the assessment to decide whether the person is eligible for support by using national eligibility criteria to consider risks to their independence, health and safety, their ability to manage daily routines and their wellbeing.

A Needs Assessment may lead to additional care or support for adults who need help with day-to-day tasks. The following are examples of the things a person requiring care or support might need help with:

  • Getting out of bed
  • Washing and dressing
  • Preparing meals
  • Eating
  • Shopping
  • Budgeting and banking
  • Attending appointments
  • Getting to work
  • Being part of the community and maintaining friendships

The support the person needs might be prompting, emotional support, a structured environment or direct physical care and support.

The assessment should look at the person’s physical, mental and emotional needs. For example it should consider:

  • The outcomes the person wishes to achieve in their everyday life
  • The types of services, information and advice that may prevent or delay further needs from developing
  • The impact of the person’s needs on any person who is involved in caring for the individual
How do I help the person I support get a Needs Assessment?

Different teams in different local authorities oversee social care assessments. Therefore you will need to ask your local authority which department to contact. You will need to request a Needs Assessment under the Care Act 2014. It is advisable to contact the local authority in writing and you should:

  • State clearly you are asking for a face-to-face Needs Assessment and for whom you are requesting this. It is advisable to list any people the person being assessed wishes to be involved in the assessment. If the person lacks capacity the local authority has a duty to involve anyone whom it appears to them to be interested in the adult’s welfare.
  • It is advisable to ask for acknowledgement they have received your request and how long it will be before an assessment will take place
  • Keep written records of your request and copies of any letters or emails you send
  • Keep written records of any telephone calls, recording the date of your call and who you spoke to
  • Remember to give the local authority your contact details and ask the date you can expect to hear back from them

The local authority should contact you within a reasonable timeframe (likely to be within 4-6 weeks) to arrange a date for an assessment. The local authority however does have the power to provide interim support or services in certain circumstances. If you feel the person you support needs support more urgently you can ask the local authority to consider, in the person’s particular circumstances, providing interim support or services until the Needs Assessment has taken place.

The local authority must provide you with information about how Needs Assessments work and what support is available locally.

You can find more information about capacity here.

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