Your right to an assessment
Local authorities must undertake an assessment for any adult who appears to have needs for care and support, regardless of whether or not the local authority thinks the adult has eligible needs or of their financial situation.
They must also undertake a transition assessment for a young person who may need support after the age of 18. An assessment begins when the local authority starts to collect information about the adult (first contact). Any person carrying out an assessment – at any stage during the assessment - must be appropriately trained. This includes those at the first point of contact, who may need to ask appropriate questions in order to identify whether someone is deafblind and refer the person to a specialist assessor accordingly.
The assessor may be a registered social worker but does not have to be. They could be an occupational therapist, a rehabilitation officer or an expert assessor, for example.
Regardless of whether you are receiving services already or this is your first assessment, you should ask to be assessed in accordance with the Deafblind Guidance and the guidance under the Care Act.
What a good assessment should look like
An assessment in general should identify:
- care and support needs
- what outcomes the individual is looking to achieve to maintain or improve their wellbeing
- how care and support might help in achieving those outcomes
- whether or not the person might benefit from preventative services – this can mean for example attending fall prevention clinics or learning new communication or mobility skills
The assessment of a deafblind person should look at your needs in relation to:
- One-to-one support and social interaction
- Support with mobility
- Assistive technology
- Your current and possible future needs (including the need to learn alternative forms of communication should you experience deterioration in vision or hearing)
Assessments should be "carer blind". This means that every one of a person's needs should be assessed and recorded - whether or not they are currently being met by a carer. The local authority may choose not to pay for support if a need is met by a carer who is both able and willing to meet it. The assessment should record all needs met by carers, however, in case that support is no longer available and the local authority is required to step in.
Local authorities must consider the person's care and support history over a suitable period of time to take account of potential fluctuation of needs. For example, a person's needs may be different in winter and summer if they are not able to go out after dark. The assessment would have to consider needs across the year, not just at the time of the assessment.
They should establish whether changes in levels of need can be anticipated, and whether the impact of any deterioration can be reduced.
If a person has fluctuating needs, it is also possible that they may have fluctuating eligibility. The care and support plan should take account of this.
Appropriate and proportionate
An assessment must be both appropriate and proportionate. Depending on the circumstances, an appropriate assessment might be:
- a face-to face assessment
- an online or phone assessment
- a combined assessment – for example a person needing care being assessed alongside their carer
- a joint assessment – for example an assessment for both health and social care
- a supported self-assessment - you should be supported by a deafblind specialist and should be your choice.
You should always have the option of a face-to-face assessment if that is what you want.
A person's communication needs will be important in deciding how an assessment can be appropriate and proportionate. Assessors must be mindful of a person's communication needs in advance - this means that they must arrange for appropriately skilled interpreters and make sure that all written information is available in an accessible format. The Care Act guidance states that it is not usually appropriate to use a family member as an interpreter.
If it appears that the person being assessed is experiencing significant difficulty participating in the assessment, and there is not a suitable person to assist them, then the local authority must arrange an independent advocate to facilitate the involvement of an adult in their assessment, in the preparation of their care and support plan and in the review of their care and support needs.
If a person is in a position where they need to be assessed by various different agencies, then all of the agencies involved should work closely together to prevent a person having to undergo a number of assessments at different times
Local authorities should, for instance, ensure that healthcare professionals' views and expertise are taken into account, and to ensure people's health and care services are aligned. Health and care services can be set out in a single, joint care plan.
The Deafblind Guidance also contains a provision whereby any assessment of a deafblind/multiple sensory impaired child must link up with an assessment of a child or young person's special educational needs. A child or young person's educational needs must be informed by their social care needs, and so a full Deafblind Guidance compliant assessment is vital for and deafblind child or young person's Education, Health and Care plan.
Deafblind people and their carers will now have the option of a supported self-assessment. This should use the same materials as a regular assessment, but the person assesses their own care needs. Your local authority will ensure that this is an accurate reflection of your needs, and the person supporting your self-assessment should be as suitably qualified as they would have to be for a face-to-face assessment. If you would like to be assessed by an expert then you should not be forced to self-assess.
After the assessment
The result of the assessment will be a document that should clearly set out the outcomes you wish to achieve, whether there will be an impact upon wellbeing if the outcome is not met, what is needed to meet the outcome (your needs), and a note of whether your needs are eligible. You should get an accessible copy of this. If you disagree with any part of this you should contact social services and explain what you disagree with.
The local authority will, in the assessment report, make a note of all of your needs, whether or not they will be eligible for support. They will then conduct an eligibility assessment, where they will decide if your needs meet the national eligibility criteria. Social services have a duty to meet needs that they have assessed as eligible - even if that means setting up new services or training new staff. If you have got needs which are assessed as not being eligible needs then the local authority should give written confirmation of their findings, and have a duty to signpost you to any other services which you may be able to use.
You should be clear about what they think you need (e.g. help with shopping, reading letters, or going out), and about how they are going to meet this need.
Things to remember
- Assessments can seem intimidating, but the expert in your impairment and your needs is you
- Decide for yourself before the assessment what outcomes you would like to achieve. (For example, if you asked for the assessment because you are finding shopping and visiting friends difficult then your outcomes would be to be able to shop and see your friends.) Make sure you think about all the things you would like support with and what type of support you need and what services you want, and tell the person assessing you
- You can ask Sense for support in explaining what you need, or what support is necessary to help you
- Ask the person assessing you what their training is. If you are deafblind the guidance requires them to be specifically trained in deafblindness. Specifically trained means an assessor or team that has training of at least QCF or OCN level 3, or above where the person has higher or more complex needs. For instance, in many cases if a person is congenitally deafblind then the assessor will require a higher level of training.
- Give them a copy of the guidance, and tell them they can contact Sense for information, advice and training
- If you have any problems or questions, get in touch with Sense. We can support you, offer advice and information, and help ensure you get the services you need
First published: Tuesday 31 March 2015
Updated: Tuesday 22 December 2015