Who is entitled to a community care assessment?

Community care services are for people who need help in one or more areas of their lives. This can include:

  • people with a learning disability
  • people with a physical or sensory disability
  • people with a mental health need
  • older people

However, not everyone is entitled to help. The community care assessment is social service's way of deciding who will be offered support – which is why it is so important to fully explain your needs during the assessment.

What services does community care include?

Community care services offer support for many areas of people's lives. These include:

  • housing - including supported living, independent living, residential care and short-break services
  • healthcare - such as nursing needs and mental health needs
  • personal care - such as help with feeding, washing and dressing
  • social needs - such as leisure activities and daytime activities
  • employment - such as employment preparation and supported employment
  • education - such as help finding further education and adult education
  • finance - such as help with grants and funding.

How can I get an assessment?

If you think your son or daughter needs help, you can contact your local social services department and ask for a community care assessment. Someone with a learning disability can also ask for an assessment themselves, or a carer, friend or professional can request one on their behalf.

Can social services refuse to carry out an assessment?

Social services can refuse to carry out a community care assessment if they think your son or daughter is not disabled or is not in need. In this case they must give the reasons why they have decided not to do an assessment. If you are unhappy with this decision you can make a complaint. You can find out about the complaints procedure later in this guide.

How will the assessment be carried out?

Some social services will carry out a ‘screen referral' first, which means they will speak to you or your child over the telephone to decide how urgent your case is. If your case needs to be dealt with quickly, you may receive services before an assessment takes place. However, the assessment will be carried out as soon as possible afterwards.

Once a date has been arranged, the assessment will take place either in your own home or in a place that is convenient for you and your child. It should take place within a ‘reasonable' amount of time after contact has been made with social services. The assessment may be carried out in just one visit or over a number of weeks, depending on your needs.

Someone from social services will usually be present. Other professionals and key people, such as a formal or informal carer, may also take part and provide information about your child and their situation. Depending on where you live, the assessment may also include filling out a form.  

During an assessment you may be told about person-centred planning. This is an approach that involves listening directly to someone with a learning disability to find out what they want from life and providing them with the right support to achieve it.

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