Assessing your care needs & claiming care entitlements

If you are at the stage of needing long-term care, you’ll need to get your care needs assessed. Your local authority (or the Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland) can carry out a care needs assessment. The assessment determines how much and what type of care or support you need. They’ll also carry out a needs-test to work out if and how much you’ll need to pay towards your care.

Care needs assessment

When you feel you may need care, you can approach your local authority directly or discuss it initially with your GP. He or she may then advise you to contact the adult social services department of your local authority, who will then arrange for a care needs assessment. Someone from the department may visit you in your home and they may also talk to your GP about your health.

A report will then be drawn up on your care needs and the type of care that would best suit you, including any specialist needs. All further discussions about care and funding will be based on these ‘assessed needs’. It is a good idea to have a family member or friend present to share what is discussed during the assessment.

If care in a residential setting is recommended, then the local authority also has a duty to help ensure suitable care is made available to you.

Means testing

Once the local authority has completed your care needs assessment and identified the care you need, they’ll carry out a financial assessment, (also known as a means test). They will determine the reasonable cost for the care required and will also assess your ability to pay for or contribute to the cost by assessing your income and assets (property, savings, investments etc). 

If you’re a home owner, your home will be excluded from the assessment if certain people will continue to live there:

    • You (the care recipient) and or your husband, wife, partner or civil partner
    • A close relative who is 60 or over, or incapacitated
    • A close relative under the age of 18 who you’re legally liable to support
    • Your ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-civil partner or ex-partner if they are a lone parent

How long do these assessments take?

How long you will have to wait for a medical and financial assessment will vary depending on the part of the country you live in. It is important not to rush the process, as your care needs and how they are paid for are decided during this time. If your needs change in the future you can have an another assessment.

Who do I speak to about receiving care and local authority funding?

The adult social services department of your local authority will arrange for a care needs and financial assessment. Find your local authority

If you’re living in Northern Ireland please contact the
Health and Social Care Trust for your care needs assessment and means test.

What information do I need to prepare for my care needs assessment?

In order to make the assessment process run as quickly and as smoothly as possible you should make sure you have the following information ready:

    • A report by your GP on your medical needs, typically sent directly from your GP to the adult social services department of your local authority
    • The telephone number and address of your local authority’s adult social services department
    • Details of how much money you have, including:
      • Bank and building society statements
      • National Savings and Premium Bond certificates
      • Details of any stocks, shares and any other financial products you own 
      • Your pension entitlements or other income such as benefits and rental income
      • Details of property you own and its current value