Preparing to Establish Needs (Carers)

This procedure should be used by anyone that has been allocated or asked to carry out any process that establishes the eligible needs of a carer under the Care Act, including any formal assessment or reassessment of need.

If you are establishing the needs of a person with Care and Support needs you should use the relevant procedure for your team/service.

You should contact the carer as soon as possible to let them know that you will be carrying out the assessment, even if you are not able to make the arrangements to do so yet.

The method of communication should reflect that requested by the carer and any specific communication needs they may have. For the purposes of the Care Act communication about the assessment is subject to the same requirements as the provision of information and advice, and the duty to make it accessible therefore applies equally.

See: How to Provide Information and Advice to read more about how to provide information in an accessible way under the Care Act.

In all cases where communication has been provided by telephone a follow up letter confirming the conversation and outcome should be sent to the carer as a formal record.

If you are able to make arrangements for the assessment to be carried out you should do so. See Section 5, Arranging the Assessment and Preparing the Carer to access the procedure for arranging an assessment.

If you are not able to arrange the assessment at this first contact you should:

  1. Be satisfied that the delay is not going to increase the risk of deterioration in need or circumstances of the carer or the person they support;
  2. Be satisfied that the delay is not going to increase the risk of abuse or neglect of the person the carer supports;
  3. Provide any information or advice that may be beneficial at that time;
  4. Be satisfied that urgent or interim support is not required;
  5. Be satisfied that the carer understands the reason for the delay;
  6. Agree a proposed timeframe for the assessment to be carried out and further contact to be made; and
  7. Advise the carer what to do should their situation change.

An element of monitoring should be incorporated into any delayed process to ensure that you remain aware of the carer's situation and are able to respond appropriately to any changes or need to re-prioritise their assessment.

If the timeframe for assessment agreed with the carer changes you should let them know as soon as possible. If you experience difficulties prioritising your own work you should seek support from your line manager.

If the carer is not happy about any delays and you are satisfied that you are taking all reasonable steps to make arrangements and reduce risk you must make them aware of their right to complain.

Any assessment can only be carried out if the carer it relates to has given their consent.

If the carer does not consent to the assessment taking place you should:

  1. Try to establish the reasons that the carer is refusing the assessment and whether a delay in the assessment would be more appropriate (for example if the carer has other things happening in their life at the moment that they need to prioritise);
  2. Provide information about the assessment process to alleviate any anxiety being felt about it;
  3. Provide information about the benefit of an assessment.

If the carer continues to decline the assessment you should:

  1. Confirm to the carer that the assessment is not being carried out on the basis that they have refused it;
  2. Provide any information and advice about adult Care and Support as appropriate and relevant;
  3. Provide any information and advice that will reduce, delay or prevent the need for Support;
  4. Let the carer know they have the right to an assessment at any point in the future on the appearance of need alone;
  5. Provide information about how the carer can request an assessment in the future; and
  6. Where there is a need to monitor the situation, agree how this will happen; and
  7. Where the situation is to be monitored, explain that another assessment will be offered to the carer any point that this appears to be beneficial to them.

Where communication about refusal is provided by telephone a follow up letter confirming the conversation and outcome should be sent to the carer as a formal record.

If no monitoring activity has been agreed you should:

  1. Make a proportionate record of the carer's refusal and the action you have taken;
  2. Notify the person who requested the assessment (if this was not the carer); and
  3. Proceed to close the case.

If a carer has substantial difficulty being involved in any Care and Support process you must take all reasonable steps to maximise their involvement.

You must:

  1. Ensure that you have provided information in an accessible way, or that the carer has an appropriate person to support them to understand it;
  2. Arrange to carry out the assessment in an appropriate format so that it is accessible. This is likely to be face to face, unless the carer's difficulty arises when engaging in face to face communication;
  3. Consider whether the carer has an appropriate person to support their involvement and, if not, whether the advocacy duty applies.

See: Using Independent Advocacy, which includes guidance on how to establish whether a carer needs an advocate and how to make a referral.

The only ground upon which the Local Authority can lawfully refuse any carer a carer's assessment is where there is no appearance of need (either now or in the future). It does not matter whether the appearance of need is likely to prove eligible after any assessment. As such, it is unlikely that many carers who request an assessment will be refused.

If you do feel that an assessment is not appropriate you should discuss this with a manager before refusing it as you must be sure that the decision to refuse is legally sound.

If any assessment is refused by the Local Authority you must confirm this in writing and explain to the carer:

  1. The reason the assessment has been refused;
  2. Information and advice about what can be done to prevent or reduce the development of needs for Support in the future; and
  3. What to do if their needs change in the future.

If the assessment was requested by anyone other than the carer and it has been refused you should notify the person who requested it so that they can make any arrangements to discuss other options with the carer. For example this could be:

  1. A health professional;
  2. A social worker or an occupational therapist;
  3. A housing officer;
  4. A care provider.

Sometimes another person will obstruct you from carrying out an assessment with a carer who has Support needs. This can happen at any point from initial contact, to arranging an assessment, to carrying out an assessment. You should establish whether:

  1. The carer with Support needs has asked the person to obstruct the assessment (this can only be achieved through direct contact with the carer); or
  2. The person obstructing the assessment is doing so out of concern for the carer with Support needs (for example would the assessment process cause anxiety).

Wherever possible you should provide information and advice relating to adult Care and Support and the assessment process to the person obstructing the assessment, to support them to understand the benefits and engage in the process.

If the person continues to obstruct the assessment, and you are not able to establish from the carer that this is at their request you must take action to ensure the assessment is carried out. By obstructing the assessment process the person is:

  1. Putting the carer at risk through lack of support;
  2. Preventing the Local Authority from fulfilling its duties under the Care Act to assess and meet carer's eligible needs.

An assessment in this situation can be carried out based on the information available and through consultation with others. The advocacy duty should be considered and it is likely that a referral would be appropriate to ensure that the carer's involvement in the process is maximised.

Any information gathered must be enhanced at such time when the carer is involved, and all information sharing should give regard to confidentiality.

Consideration should also be given to instigating an adult safeguarding enquiry if:

  1. There are concerns that the person being cared for may be at risk of abuse or neglect; or
  2. There are concerns that the carer may be at risk of abuse or neglect (for example, by the person obstructing the assessment).

See Safeguarding Adults.

The Care Act is clear that you should not ask the carer (or anybody that you consult with for the purpose of assessment) to repeat information that has already been made available to you unless there is a valid reason for doing so. For example, if you have not understood the information and want to clarify the meaning behind it then it may be appropriate to ask for it to be repeated, summarised or clarified.

Before continuing or beginning to carry out any kind of assessment you should take some time to read through the information that is already available for the purposes of:

  1. Understanding it; and
  2. Thinking about how it should inform the assessment process.

Existing sources of information may be available via:

  1. Referral forms;
  2. Recordings of any contact made;
  3. Letters, texts and e-mails;
  4. A confidential conversation with a colleague or manager who is familiar with the carer;
  5. Records relating to current or historical safeguarding enquiries or concerns; or
  6. Existing or historical assessment reports, review reports or Support Plans.

All information gathering and sharing should be carried out with regard to the Caldicott Principles, Data Protection legislation and local information sharing policies.

It may be appropriate and necessary for you to undertake an element of research in order to improve your own knowledge or awareness of a particular issue or health condition:

  1. By speaking with a colleague who possesses skills and knowledge in a particular area;
  2. By reading particular guidance or written resources about a particular medical condition;
  3. By accessing a reputable website for information and advice (for example Parkinson's UK, the British Institute for Learning Disabilities or MIND).

See: National Organisations with Information and Advice Helplines for details of some national organisations offering a specific information and advice helpline.

See: National Contacts for Adult Care and Support for a wider range of useful national contacts for adult Care and Support.

You may need to speak to the carer in advance of arranging their assessment in order to gather or clarify any information.

You may also identify a benefit in gathering information and consulting with others. However, under the Care Act you are only permitted to consult with those people that the carer has consented to you consulting with. If you are of the view that consultation would be beneficial you should seek the carers consent to consult. If this is not provided you may not consult.

See: Gathering Information and Consulting with Others.

Legally you must have regard to the following when arranging an assessment:

  1. The carer's views and wishes about when and how the assessment is carried out, including who they would like to support them;
  2. The impact of any delay in assessment on their individual Wellbeing; and
  3. Whether any information and advice can be given to them that will prevent, delay or reduce the need for Support.

The Care Act statutory guidance states that 'an assessment should be carried out over an appropriate and reasonable timeframe taking into account the urgency of the needs or situation and consideration of any fluctuating needs'. This means that arbitrary timeframes (fixed timeframes that apply to all) should be avoided and a more flexible approach taken that reflects the needs of the carer and their situation.

The timing of the assessment should be agreed with the carer and anyone else who is to be involved in it.

You should also take into account the following:

  1. The level of risk to the carer;
  2. The intensity and frequency of support the carer provides;
  3. The level of support currently being provided to the carer and the sustainability/effectiveness of this;
  4. The urgency and likelihood of deterioration (for example is the carer at breaking point);
  5. Any clear indication of timeframe provided within any referral or recorded contact; and
  6. Whether the carer will need the support of an independent advocate and the time it may take to arrange this.

The method of communication should reflect that requested by the carer and any specific communication needs they may have. For the purposes of the Care Act communication about the assessment is subject to the same requirements as the provision of information and advice, and the duty to make it accessible therefore applies equally.

See: How to Provide Information and Advice to read more about how to provide information in an accessible way under the Care Act.

In all cases where communication has been provided by telephone a follow up letter confirming the conversation and outcome should be sent to the carer as a formal record.

The most important thing you must consider when arranging the assessment is how you will maximise the involvement of the carer. Some of the things you should think about include:

  1. Whether the carer will require independent advocacy;
  2. Whether the carer will find any assessment process to be emotionally difficult and what can be done to reduce their anxiety;
  3. The information the carer may need to prepare for the assessment;
  4. Whether the carer would like for anyone in particular to be involved in any assessment;
  5. Which environment would be best to meet in (if a meeting is to be arranged);
  6. Whether the assessment needs to be arranged around work commitments that the carer has; and
  7. Whether the assessment needs to consider any physical needs the carer has for medication or rest.

When arranging the assessment you should also identify other people who may need to be a part of it. For example, a health professional or a service provider may need to be involved. As long as the carer consents you should arrange for others to be involved if their involvement would be beneficial.

Under the Care Act you must provide specific information to the carer as early as possible for the purpose of maximising their involvement in the assessment and any subsequent Care and Support processes. Wherever practical this must be provided before the assessment process begins.

Any information must be provided in an accessible way for the carer who will be receiving it. In all cases where information has been provided by telephone a follow up letter confirming the information provided should be sent to the person.

The information that must be provided is as follows:

  1. Information about what can be expected during the assessment process;
  2. The format that the assessment will take (e.g. telephone assessment, face-to-face assessment);
  3. The indicative timeframe for assessment (when will it begin and how long is it likely to take);
  4. The complaints process; and
  5. Information about possible access to independent advocacy.

You must also provide a list of any questions that you intend to ask of the carer during the assessment. This will help them to prepare for the assessment and to think about their Wellbeing, the impact of their needs on this and what outcomes they want to achieve.

Financial assessment is often a key point of anxiety and it is important that you are able to provide good information and advice (either directly or by supporting the carer to access it from an appropriate person or source).

It is your responsibility to understand the local policy around the financial assessment of carer's and to provide this information to the carer, particularly whether or not a financial assessment will take place if, following the assessment, they have eligible needs that the Local Authority will be meeting.

The Care Act sets out the specific information and advice that must be provided about financial assessment. See 'Specific Requirements on Provision of the Information and Advice around Finances'.

See the Financial Assessment and Charging FAQ Response Support Tool for the answers to some frequently asked questions around financial assessment.

See the Financial Assessment Procedure for further guidance.

If the need for independent advocacy has not already been established at contact or referral then this should become clear when either arranging the assessment or providing information about it. As soon as this is established you must consider whether the duty to make independent advocacy applies and, if so make the necessary arrangements.

See: Using Independent Advocacy, which includes guidance on how to establish whether a carer needs an advocate, the different advocates that are available and how to make a referral.

In some cases the only person who will need to be involved in the assessment will be the carer with Support needs. In other cases more people will need to be involved because:

  1. The carer has asked you to involve another person (for example, the cared for person);
  2. The carer has consented to the involvement of another person; or
  3. The carer will be using independent advocacy.

It is important that everyone who is to be involved in an assessment is aware of:

  1. The purpose of the assessment;
  2. The process of assessment; and
  3. Their role in any assessment.

The needs of others involved in an assessment should also be considered, but this should not be at the detriment of maximising the carer's own involvement.

If a person has a role in the assessment process but is not able to physically attend any planned meeting it is possible under the Care Act to consult with them separately and still include their views in any assessment and decision making processes.

The Care Act is clear that a whole family approach to assessment should be taken wherever possible. This means that you should:

  1. Establish who relevant family members are; and
  2. Arrange for them to be involved in the assessment if the carer consents to this.
Need to know

The direct involvement of family member's in a carer's assessment is subject to consent being provided by the carer in all cases.

Relevant family members include the cared for person, anyone living with the carer, including older adults and any children. It can also include family members who are not living with the carer, but who are still involved or interested in the carer's wellbeing.

The Care Act recognises a whole host of different methods of assessment, any of which could be appropriate so long as:

  1. The carer's involvement is maximised by the method;
  2. The method is appropriate and proportionate to the needs and circumstances of the carer;
  3. The method will provide a full picture of the carers needs in regard to the impact that those needs have on their Wellbeing; so that
  4. The Local Authority can provide an appropriate response at that time.

Possible assessment methods include:

  1. Face to face assessment;
  2. Telephone assessment;
  3. Online assessment;
  4. Combined assessment (with the cared for person);
  5. Joint or integrated assessment;
  6. Supported self assessment; and
  7. Delegated assessment

To access the Care Act definitions for each of the above assessment methods, see: Methods of Assessment, part of the Care Act 2014.

A carers assessment can be carried out under the Care Act as a combined assessment at the same time as any needs assessment of the cared for person, so long as:

  1. It is deemed appropriate to do so (for example both parties involvement can still be maximised and there is no conflict between the parties);
  2. Both the person and the carer agree to a combined assessment process and the sharing of information; or
  3. The person with care and support needs lacks capacity to agree but a best interest decision is made to carry out a combined assessment.

When making a decision about the method of assessment you must have regard to:

  1. The wishes and preferences of the carer;
  2. The outcome the carer seeks from the assessment; and
  3. The frequency and intensity of the support the carer provides.

Some of the other factors that should be considered include:

  1. Availability of a particular assessment method;
  2. Whether carrying out a combined assessment process would be beneficial.
  3. Whether the method of assessment chosen poses any challenges or risks for the carer;
  4. The specific communication needs of the carer (specifically whether they will be able to engage in the assessment method);
  5. The potential fluctuation of the carers needs or situation; and
  6. Any need for multidisciplinary working or assessment.

Using a tool to support the process of establishing needs or formal assessment can be useful for all involved. If you are going to use a tool you should endeavour to provide this to the carer (and whoever will be supporting them) before the assessment is scheduled to take place.

See: Tools and Practice Guidance to Establish Needs.

Sometimes there may be a clear benefit to a joint assessment with another service area, team or professional. The Care Act recognises this and permits the Local Authority to make any arrangements it deems appropriate in order to facilitate joint working with others.

Where the Local Authority requests another person to work jointly in some way to benefit the carer that person has a duty to co-operate with the request (unless by doing so they will be prevented from carrying out their own duties under the Care Act or other legislation).

For further information about the duty to co-operate under the Care Act, see: Co-Operation.

Any decision to request joint work should be made with the carer.

Joint work requests should be made in the manner preferred by the service, team or professional to which the request is being made. This may or may not take the form of a referral.

The request should explain clearly the nature of the joint work required and any specific skills, knowledge and competence requirements to support allocation.

If you have been asked to work jointly with a colleague in adult Care and Support or in another organisation (such as health or housing) you should contact the person you will be working jointly with to confirm your involvement and discuss the most effective way to work together. The things you should establish include:

  1. The work they are doing/will be doing/have done and whether they have any information that you need to know or can use to avoid duplication;
  2. Whether there are opportunities to co-ordinate systems and processes and, if so how this will be managed;
  3. What the expectations are in terms of joint-working (for example will you be expected to carry out a joint assessment, meet with the carer together, produce joint records or just consult and share information);
  4. What the anticipated outcome of the joint work is (for example on-going joint-work to monitor);
  5. What does the carer know about the joint-work to be carried out (and if they don't know who and how should this be explained);
  6. Who will be the primary contact for the carer to go to with any queries; and
  7. Who will be responsible for communicating progress and decisions to the carer.

See: Joint Work for further practice guidance about effective joint working.

Sometimes the timeframe within which to arrange an assessment is not conducive to all of the considered planning and preparation as outlined in this procedure. For example, there may not always be the time to research and make the best use of available information or to consult with others before arranging to meet with the carer. However, even when the timeframe is short it is of paramount importance that you still:

  1. Take all available steps to maximise the involvement of the carer in any assessment;
  2. Consider consent;
  3. Provide independent advocacy where there is a statutory duty to do so;
  4. Prepare the carer as much as possible;
  5. Identify what existing information is important and understand it; and
  6. Know what you have not been able to do and ensure that at the earliest opportunity you make arrangements to do so (for example to consult with another professional or read a particular report).

If there are urgent needs you may need to arrange interim services to ensure that these are met during the assessment process. See: Urgent or Interim Support

Last Updated: September 29, 2021

v30