Preparing to Establish Needs (Reablement)


This procedure was updated in September 2022. The following sections have been localised: 1.2 How to arrange the assessment, 2.2 Consent and capacity, 2.6 Refused access to a person requiring an assessment and 6.3 How to decide the method of assessment.

September 22, 2022

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

  1. The person'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 Care and Support.

The assessment should be arranged at the earliest opportunity to:

  1. Maximise the benefit of any reablement that is provided (in terms of reducing, preventing and delaying the need for care and support); and
  2. Reduce the risk of the person's needs or circumstances deteriorating to a point where reablement is no longer appropriate.

You should also take into account the following:

  1. Current support in place and the sustainability/effectiveness of this;
  2. Any clear indication of timeframe provided within any referral or recorded contact; and
  3. Whether the person will need the support of an independent advocate and the time it may take to arrange this.

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

You should arrange the assessment with the person themselves unless:

  1. They have requested you liaise with a nominated representative (for example an advocate or family member); or
  2. They lack capacity and a decision is made that it would be in their best interests to liaise with another appropriate person.

The method of communication should reflect that requested by the person 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 person as a formal record.

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

  1. Whether the person will find the assessment process to be emotionally difficult and what can be done to reduce their anxiety;
  2. The information the person may need to prepare for the assessment;
  3. Whether the person requires any support with communication (for example, will any assessment tool need to be adapted or is an interpreter required);
  4. Whether the person would like for anyone in particular to be involved in any assessment; and
  5. Whether the assessment needs to consider any physical needs the person has for medication, rest or personal care.

When arranging the assessment you should also identify other people who may need to be a part of it. For example, an informal carer, an occupational therapist, a health professional or an existing service provider may need to be involved.

Under the Care Act you can involve any other person in the assessment if:

  1. The person consents; or
  2. The person lacks capacity to consent and a best interest decision that others should be involved.

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.
Need to know

Remember: see the tri.x Resources to access additional practice guidance that can support the processes of establishing needs, Reablement Planning and review when the person has specific needs.

If the person lacks capacity you should make arrangements with an appropriate person. Where available this should be a person legally authorised to represent them (for example a Court appointed Deputy or the Donee of a Lasting Power of Attorney) or an independent advocate.

Under the Care Act you must provide specific information to the person (or their representative if they lack capacity) as early as possible for the purpose of maximising their involvement in the assessment and any subsequent reablement planning process. Wherever practical this must be provided before the assessment process begins.

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

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

You must inform the person (or their representative if they lack capacity) that there is no charge attached to the reablement service for the first 6 weeks that it is provided, regardless of their financial circumstances. You should also explain that any equipment or aids provided to them to promote independence will also be non-chargeable up to the cost of £1000.

When you explain to the person that there will be no charge for reablement for the first 6 weeks you also need to explain what may happen financially after this point. Specifically you must explain:

  1. The local charging policy for any reablement that is extended beyond 6 weeks; and
  2. That any subsequent Care and Support provided to them will be subject to a financial assessment.

See: Specific Requirements on the Provision of the Information and Advice around Finances for guidance on the requirements of the Care Act.

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.

Any assessment can only be carried out if the person it relates to has given their consent unless:

  1. The person lacks capacity to refuse the assessment and you are satisfied that carrying out the assessment would be in their best interests; or
  2. The person is experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, abuse or neglect.
Need to know

If reablement has been requested internally following a recent needs assessment the person may be reluctant to go through another assessment process. In this case you should explain to the person that you will make effective use of the information that has already been gathered through previous assessment processes to avoid duplication.

As long as neither of the above criteria applies you do not have to carry out the assessment. You should:

  1. Confirm to the person 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 Care and Support;
  4. Let the person 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 person 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 the Local Authority will offer the person another assessment at any point that it feels this would be beneficial to them.

Where the person who has refused an assessment has a carer the duty to assess the carer's needs still applies, unless the carer also refuses the assessment.

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

If no monitoring activity has been agreed you should:

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

If there are concerns that the person may lack capacity to consent to the assessment then a proportionate mental capacity assessment must be carried out to determine whether this is the case. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to make a referral to the Reablement and Hospital Discharge Team to support with this.

If the person has capacity to consent following the mental capacity assessment their consent must be obtained before carrying out the assessment.

If the person lacks capacity to consent following the mental capacity assessment then a Best Interest Decision must be made to confirm that carrying out the assessment will be in their Best Interests. This decision should be made by the assessor as the decision whether to assess or not rests with them.

See the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Resource and Practice Toolkit, with guidance about assessing capacity and making best interest decisions.

If a person does not lack capacity but does have substantial difficulty being involved in the assessment 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 person 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 person's difficulty arises when engaging in face to face communication;
  3. Consider whether the person 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 person needs an advocate and how to make a referral.

The only ground upon which the Local Authority can lawfully refuse any adult an assessment is where there is no appearance of need. As such, it is unlikely that many people 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 person:

  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 Care and 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 person 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 person. For example this could be:

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

Sometimes another person will obstruct you from carrying out an assessment with a person who has Care and 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 person with Care and Support needs has asked the person to obstruct the assessment, and if so whether they have capacity to refuse the assessment (this can only be achieved through direct contact with the person with Care and Support needs);
  2. The person obstructing the assessment is doing so out of concern for the person with Care and Support needs (for example would the assessment process cause anxiety);
  3. The person with Care and Support needs is at risk of abuse or neglect.

Wherever possible you should provide information and advice relating to adult Care and Support, reablement 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 person with Care and Support needs that this is at their request you must take action to ensure the assessment is carried out, even if it is not clear at the time whether a reablement service can ultimately be arranged. This means placing a call to a Manager or Co-Ordinator as soon as possible to advise them that you have not been able to complete the assessment as planned, and to seek their advice or instruction about the best way to do so without the direct involvement of the person.

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 person's involvement in the process is maximised.

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

Depending on the circumstances consideration should also be given to raising an adult safeguarding concern.

See Safeguarding Adults.

Under the Care Act you have a duty to carry out the assessment if the person is at risk of abuse or neglect. This is regardless of whether they consent to it or not.

Where the person does not consent but there is a duty to assess you should:

  1. Explain to the person that you have a duty to assess;
  2. Support and encourage the person to be involved in the assessment; and
  3. Carry out the assessment to the best of your abilities while maximising their involvement as much as possible.

The Care Act is clear that you should not ask the person (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 person;
  5. Records relating to current or historical safeguarding enquiries or concerns;
  6. Existing or historical mental capacity assessments; or
  7. Existing or historical assessment reports, review reports or Care and 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.

Need to know

If the request for reablement has been made following a needs assessment by another service/team within the Local Authority any further assessment you carry out must be:

  1. Proportionate and appropriate to the nature of the person's reablement needs; and
  2. Make best use of the information already available to you in the existing assessment.

The person should not be asked the same questions that they have already recently answered.

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.

Need to know

Remember: see the tri.x Resources to access additional practice guidance that can support the processes of establishing needs, Reablement Planning and review when the person has specific needs.

You may need to speak to the person 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 person has consented to you consulting with (unless they lack capacity to provide consent when a decision can then be made in their best interests).

See: Gathering Information and Consulting with Others.

If the need for independent advocacy has not already been established at 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 person 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 person with Care and Support needs. In other cases more people will need to be involved because:

  1. The person has a carer (carer's must be involved in the person's assessment);
  2. The person has asked you to involve another person;
  3. The person has consented to the involvement of another person;
  4. The person will be using independent advocacy;
  5. The person lacks capacity and a decision has been made in their best interests to involve another person; or
  6. The assessment is being carried out because of the risk of abuse and neglect and there is a need to involve others.

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 person'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 person consents or lacks capacity and it is in their best interests to do so).

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

Family members may have particular questions and require additional information about adult Care and Support in general, which could include:

  1. Information relating to financial assessment;
  2. Information about mental capacity and best interests;
  3. Information about a Lasting Power of Attorney;
  4. Information about Appointeeship;
  5. Information about Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards; and
  6. Information about carers assessment.

Under the Care Act carers have to be a part of any cared for person's assessment, even if the cared for person does not want them to be. This is because the Local Authority needs to:

  1. Understand the person's needs, how they are currently being met and whether this is appropriate and sustainable; and
  2. Identify and support carers.

When a person has not consented to the carer being a part of the assessment you should:

  1. Advise the person that you have a duty to involve the carer;
  2. Explain the benefits of the carer being involved; and
  3. Agree the most appropriate way to involve the carer (for example a separate meeting with the carer).

If the person has requested particular information not relating to needs is withheld from the carer, and they have capacity to do so normal confidentiality rules apply unless doing so would put the person (or another vulnerable adult or child) at risk of abuse or neglect.

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

  1. The person's involvement is maximised by the method;
  2. The method is appropriate and proportionate to the needs and circumstances of the person;
  3. The method will provide a full picture of the persons 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 reablement assessment methods include:

  1. Face to face assessment;
  2. Telephone assessment;
  3. Joint or integrated 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 needs assessment can be carried out under the Care Act as a combined assessment at the same time as any carers assessment, 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.

If the person has a carer who has not had a carer's assessment you should:

  1. Offer the carer and assessment; and
  2. If accepted, carry out a carer's assessment (or arrange for one to be carried out).

See: Carers Procedures if completing a carer's assessment.

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

  1. The wishes and preferences of the person;
  2. The outcome the person seeks from the assessment; and
  3. The nature and overall extent of the person's needs.

Some of the other factors that should be considered include:

  1. Availability of a particular assessment method;
  2. If the person has a carer, whether carrying out a combined assessment process would be beneficial.
  3. Whether there is a concern about the person's capacity. In this situation the Care Act requires you must carry out a face to face assessment;
  4. Whether the method of assessment chosen poses any challenges or risks for the person;
  5. The specific communication needs of the person (specifically whether they will be able to engage in the assessment method);
  6. The potential fluctuation of the persons needs or situation; and
  7. Any need for multidisciplinary working or assessment.
Need to know

If the person requests a method of assessment that is not face to face you should facilitate this wherever possible in order to maximise their involvement, however you will need to arrange to also carry out a proportionate assessment of their home environment before making any decision about reablement.

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 person (or whoever will be supporting them) before the assessment is scheduled to take place.

See: Tools and Practice Guidance to Establish Needs.

Effective reablement often involves an element of joint working. For example with:

  1. Occupational Therapy;
  2. Social Work;
  3. A health professional;
  4. A service provider.

The Care Act encourages joint working within organisations and across organisations, permitting anyone carrying out a Care and Support process to make any arrangements it deems necessary in order to facilitate joint working.

Where the Local Authority requests another party work jointly in some way to benefit the person with Care and Support needs that party 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 person (or their representative). Where the person is unable to provide consent to joint work decisions should be made in their best interests.

The need to involve others should be identified at an early stage, preferably before the reablement service begins. This will allow:

  1. Any equipment or assistive technology to be in place at the time reablement starts; so that
  2. Reablement workers can support the person (and their carer) to use the equipment safely and with optimum effect during reablement; and
  3. The risks to reablement from complexities in the person's situation or additional needs to be reduced.

The process of requesting joint work during reablement should be as simple as possible to allow for a swift response.

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.

When you have been asked to work jointly with another service, team or professional you should contact them 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 person together, produce joint records or just consult and share information);
  4. What the anticipated outcome of the joint work is (for example joint funding of support, on-going joint-work to monitor);
  5. What does the person with care and support needs 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 person (or their representative) to go to with any queries; and
  7. Who will be responsible for communicating progress and decisions to the person.

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, when facilitating a hospital discharge 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 person. 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 person in any assessment;
  2. Consider consent and mental capacity;
  3. Provide independent advocacy where there is a statutory duty to do so;
  4. Prepare the person 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).

Last Updated: September 22, 2022