Staying in your own home - Requesting an assessment

If you think you need some support to manage day-to-day tasks, it can be useful to talk through your situation with someone who can look at the difficulties you are experiencing and who can offer suggestions and advice that will help make things easier. This process is called an assessment.

Different organisations can help with assessments. You can apply for an assessment from your local council, or you can approach a private assessment agency. In some cases independent community organisations offer advice and guidance on assessments as well.

An assessment from the council
You can apply to have your needs assessed for free through your local council. You have a legal right to be assessed for care by your local council if:

  • you are having difficulties managing with your daily activities and tasks, or you are finding it hard to get out of the house
  • you care for someone who is disabled or who is having difficulties managing with their daily activities
  • you are already receiving services from your local council but you feel that your needs have changed.
You can approach your council yourself, or be referred by someone you know, or by a professional who is already involved in your care, such as a GP, community nurse, or mental health nurse.

If you are being referred by someone else, that person should have discussed and agreed this in advance with you.

Depending on where you live the council may ask you to complete a form or questionnaire so that they can understand more about your needs and your living situation before they meet you.

A social worker will meet with you and talk to you about your situation. This is known as the assessment (see further down this page for information on what to expect as part of the assessment).

Following the assessment, and depending on your situation, you may be asked to go through a short period of rehabilitation or reablement (usually within your own home). The aim of this is to see if you can regain the ability to do some of those things which you have been finding difficult, before a final decision is made on what support you will need.

A decision will then be made about whether you are eligible for support (see below for information on how this is decided). If you are eligible the social worker will start putting together a plan with you to meet your needs; this is called a support plan.

If you are not eligible for support from the council, the social worker will suggest other support options for you and will make sure that you are able to make any necessary arrangements.

What to expect at your assessment
If you have an assessment you can expect that whoever carries it out will:
  • clearly explain the assessment process from the start, and what your options are at each stage of the process
  • make sure that you take part in the assessment as much as possible and give your own views about what you need and what is important in your life
  • offer you an interpreter or an advocate (someone who can speak on your behalf) if you need help to communicate your views
  • arrange some temporary support for you whilst your assessment is being completed, if you have a serious or immediate need
  • involve other professionals and specialists (such as doctors, nurses and physiotherapists) in your assessment if needed. If they do this they will tell you who they intend to consult and check that you are happy for them to do this
  • if someone looks after you, offer a carer's assessment to that person
  • give you a copy of your completed assessment and a statement of needs which will tell you whether you are eligible for support from the council or not
  • try to give you information and advice about other services more suitable for your needs if you are not eligible for help.
How the council decides if you are eligible for support
Not everyone who receives an assessment from their local council will then be eligible to receive support from the council.

How a council decides this is by a system called Fair Access to Care Services (FACS for short) which works out how much support people with care needs will require to help them cope and keep them fit and well. It applies to all the councils in England. Its aim is to help social workers make fair and consistent decisions about the level of support needed, and whether your local council should pay towards this support. However different councils use the FACS critieria in different ways, and your eligibility to receive support can vary depending on where you live. When you receive an assessment your social worker will explain how FACS works in your local council area. Find out more about Sutton's FACS criteria.

What happens if you are eligible for support
If you are eligible for social care support in Sutton, a social worker or community care assessor will develop a support plan with you detailing how your eligible needs will be met. Additionally, you will be asked to provide information on your financial position because you may have to contribute towards your social care.

Sutton Council will calculate what you will need to pay (if anything) for your support and will let you know how much money (if any) the council will contribute towards meeting your assessed eligible needs – this is called your personal budget. From this personal budget you may then receive a sum of money, known as a direct payment, which you can use to arrange and pay for the support yourself. Alternatively the council can use your personal budget to arrange the support on your behalf.

This assessment covers all presenting needs but the council will only ever contribute towards assessed eligible needs. Sutton Council currently (as at July 2012) only contributes towards meeting eligible needs that are assessed by the council as either Critical, Substantial, or Moderate High, based on the FACS eligibility criteria framework.

The support you may receive will depend upon your individual situation. This support may include provision of equipment or other gadgets to keep you safe in your home, help looking after yourself at home, help with going out, or help in attending employment or education.

However you receive your support, your social worker will work with you to draw up a written support plan which gives details of how your support will be provided - this gives you the chance to take control in deciding how you will receive your support, and to have a clear idea of when and how this support will be provided for you.

If your needs change
Your council will arrange for a social worker to review your support plan from time to time to make sure it still fits your needs. If anything changes, for example if your health worsens, or you have a fall, or you move house, it's a good idea to let your social worker know as soon as possible so that they can make any adjustments to your support plan and see if there are any ways to help you regain your independence.

What happens if you are not eligible for support
Not everyone who has an assessment will be eligible for support. If you are unhappy with the council's decision, you should first of all write to request an assessment, state your case, and ask the council to provide written reasons as to why it is not willing to carry out an assessment. Make sure your council is fully aware of your situation, and give any relevant details, for example about any disabilities or health problems.

If you are still not happy with the council's decision, you can make a formal complaint online. The social services department will be able to explain the procedure to you, and the complaints page provides details of how to contact the complaints team.

Contacting your local council to request an assessment
The assessment will involve filling out a form. Complete as much of sections 3 and 4 as possible. The remaining
sections will be completed by the social worker/community care assessor when they visit you.

Who should complete the form
If you do not want to complete it, or cannot, then you can ask someone else to complete the form on your behalf, but you should still like you to sign (in Box A). Wherever possible the answers given on the questionnaire should be from your point of view, not the view of the person who is completing this on your behalf. If someone else is completing the form on your behalf then they should complete Box B with their basic information.

If you get stuck
Ring 020 8770 5000: there will be someone there to answer your queries between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Once all the questions have been answered, send the completed form back to:
London Borough of Sutton
Referral Point
Civic Offices
St Nicholas Way

Contact details
Referral Point
Telephone 020 8770 4565
Fax: 020 8770 5284
Minicom: 020 8770 5178

Sharing of your personal information

To ensure that Sutton Council can provide a joined up service the council sometimes needs to share your information with other organisations e.g. providers, Health. To allow this you should sign the consent to share information agreement in section six. For more information regarding this, read the page on information kept about you.

Private and independent assessments

You may prefer not to approach your local council about an assessment. In particular if you are likely to be asked to pay the full cost for your care by the council following a financial assessment then you may feel that it would be simpler to make your own arrangements.

A number of independent organisations and charities, as well as private individuals, can assist you to carry out an assessment of your care needs, and can offer advice and guidance on the assessment process, and assist you to arrange the best support for you once an assessment is completed. The British Association of Social Workers can provide information about private social workers.

These private and voluntary organisations are not affiliated with your local council and they may charge for their service.

Other information and advice
The following organisations all provide independent advice on what to expect as part of the community care assessment process