Care Guides > Care Needs Assessments: What They Involve + How To Apply

Care Needs Assessments: What They Involve + How To Apply

Woman conducting a care needs assessment

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A care needs assessment is used to see what type of care someone needs, whether that’s home care, moving into a care home or something else. These assessments are carried out by your local authority.

We’ve explained a care needs assessment, how to book one in each part of the UK, what the assessment involves and how to prepare.

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In this article:

  1. What is a care needs assessment?
  2. How to book a care needs assessment?
  3. What does a care needs assessment involve?
  4. How to prepare
  5. Our care experts’ advice on care needs assessments

What Is a Care Needs Assessment?

A care needs assessment determines whether you require care and support, the required level needed and what sort of care would be best suited.

This could include:

  • Care in a care home - A care home provides accommodation and support to people - often older adults - who can no longer live safely by themselves. Care homes offer personal care, including assistance with washing, bathing, getting in and out of bed and other daily tasks. Specialist care is also available in some homes, including nursing and dementia care

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  • Day care services - Adult day care services support people who need additional care and support throughout the day - often for several hours at a time. There are specialist adult day care centres, while some care homes and similar facilities also offer this service. People spending time in an adult day care centre are encouraged to take part in activities, and varying levels of care are available as well

  • Home care - This is where you receive care within the comfort of your own home. There are different home care services to choose from. Domiciliary care, for example, involves a carer visiting your home to assist at specific times throughout the week. There’s also live-in care for people with greater care needs, where a carer moves in with you full-time. Your home may need to be adapted or have specialist equipment installed so you can carry on safely living there

A care needs assessment is free and available to everyone who thinks they may require care.

How to Book a Care Needs Assessment

You can arrange a care needs assessment by social services here. This service is available to people living in England and Wales. Enter your postcode and you’ll be directed to the website of your local council. The assessment can be booked through here.

In Scotland, you should contact your council’s social care department and ask for an assessment. You can find your local council’s social care department using the Care Information Scotland website.

In Northern Ireland, you can find health services in your area to book a care needs assessment.

We’re here to help you find the right care home for you or your loved one. You can request a free list of care homes from our care experts, who will then share homes matching your budget, location and type of care needed. You can also search for a care home through our easy-to-use directory.

What Does a Care Needs Assessment Involve?

A care needs assessment is often done by somebody from your local council, such as a social worker. An occupational therapist or a different healthcare professional may also give it.

Assessments can take place in person or over the phone, and they usually last around an hour.

In person, family members or somebody else (such as an advocate) can accompany you if you wish.

A care needs assessment will examine how you’re getting on in your everyday life and whether you’re finding certain tasks and activities more difficult.

You’ll be asked a series of questions to determine whether you need care and if so, which setting would be best suited. Your opinions will always be taken into account during the assessment.

If it’s decided that you need home care, there will also be a discussion about whether your home requires any improvements or alterations, such as installing specialist equipment like grab rails or a stair lift.

Woman giving a care needs assessment

Care needs assessment template

Here’s an example of the kind of questions you can expect to be asked during a care needs assessment:

Basic details

First, you’ll need to provide basic information, such as your name, date of birth, National Insurance number, NHS number and address.

Current accommodation

You’ll be asked to describe your current living situation, such as whether you own your home or rent it, and whether you live by yourself or others.


  • How does your physical condition affect you or others?
  • How does your mental wellbeing affect you or others?
  • Does anybody currently support you with your physical or mental wellbeing?
  • What are your current healthcare needs?
  • What medication do you take?


  • Can you be active in your local community without support from others?
  • Can you reach essential facilities and amenities such as health care centres and shops by yourself?
  • Is anybody dependent on you (this includes pets)
  • What daily responsibilities do you have, and how are you coping with these (this could include cleaning, cooking, personal hygiene, managing your finances or something else)


This part of the assessment will consider the risks you currently face in your daily life, how they’re managed and how they could be managed in the future. For example, installing different specialist equipment, such as grab rails, shower or bath seats and non-slip flooring, could minimise home hazards.


  • What other support is available to you, and how often do you receive this support?
  • Does an informal carer provide support, and if so, how much?

To get a better understanding of these questions, the full Adult Social Care Act Assessment form can be found here.

What questions are asked of people living with dementia?

People living with dementia are also entitled to a care needs assessment by their local authority.

The questions asked of someone living with dementia during this assessment (or the person accompanying them) should work out the person’s needs, the support needed to care for these needs and how their life is currently affected.

Questions could include:

  • How do the symptoms of dementia (such as forgetfulness and confusion) affect daily life?
  • What support does the person currently receive from family and friends?
  • What care and support could be required as the person’s needs increase?
  • What medication are they currently taking?
  • What equipment and systems could be implemented to make day-to-day life more manageable?

What happens after a care needs assessment?

After a care needs assessment, your local authority will review the information gathered during the evaluation to decide whether to provide you with relevant services, depending on whether your needs meet the national eligibility criteria for care.

If yes, your local authority will make you a care plan which maps out your care needs and the care you require in much greater detail.

You’ll then have a financial assessment (also known as a means test). This will determine whether you’re eligible for financial assistance from your local authority with paying for your care. Your savings and income will be added (along with assets such as a property if you require care in a care home) to work this out.

If you aren’t classed as eligible for care, you should be given a written explanation of why you didn’t meet the eligibility criteria.

Woman opening letter

How To Prepare For a Care Needs Assessment

You can prepare for a care needs assessment by sharing as much relevant information as possible with your assessor. The more information you provide, the more accurate the assessment will be, meaning you’ll be matched up with the correct type of care.

During the assessment, local councils follow national guidelines when deciding who is eligible for care and support, so the more context and the more specific this context, the better.

For example, think about all the things you currently need help with on a daily basis, such as preparing and cooking food, personal hygiene like showering and bathing, getting dressed and undressed, getting in and out of bed, administering medication and so on.

Your local council will also want to know whether you have additional care and support needs, and if your wellbeing is impacted or is likely to be affected in the future.

You’ll also want to have details such as your National Insurance number and NHS number to hand.

Somebody can accompany you to the assessment if you wish.

Our Care Experts’ Advice On Care Needs Assessments

A common misconception is that you must get a care needs assessment to receive care in a care home or in your home.

Actually, you don’t need to have a care needs assessment if you or your loved one already know what kind of care is needed.

However, you will need this assessment if you’re likely to require funding to help pay for care, as a financial assessment (means test) follows a care needs assessment, so you can’t qualify for local authority funding without completing this assessment first.

Lottie matches care seekers with the best care homes for their needs. You can request a free care home shortlist from our care experts, who will share homes matching your budget, location and type of care needed. You can also search for a care home through our easy-to-use directory.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a care needs assessment means tested?

A care needs assessment is always free, regardless of how much money you have. A financial assessment follows a care need assessment, and this looks at the total value of your savings and income (along with your assets if you require care in a care home).

What questions are asked during a needs assessment?

You’ll be asked a series of questions during a needs assessment. These will cover several essential aspects of your daily life, including your current living situation, physical and mental health, healthcare needs and any medication you take, what support is currently available to you from others and the risks you currently face.

Can an individual refuse a care needs assessment?

An individual can usually refuse a care needs assessment.

However, there are two situations where a local authority is required to carry out a needs assessment, even if the person is refusing to have one:

  • If the person is at risk of harm
  • If the local authority believes it would be in the person’s best interests, but the person lacks the mental capacity to decide whether they need it
What are examples of healthcare needs?

A healthcare need relates to how a medical condition, illness or something similar is looked after, such as how it’s treated or controlled.

A typical healthcare need is managing and administering medication to keep a medical condition under control.

What is considered a healthcare setting?

A healthcare setting is one where any kind of healthcare is provided. This could be a care home, a hospital or any other type of long-term care setting.

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