Your assessment is the starting point; someone will look at your circumstances and find out what care and support needs you might have and how they can be met.
The assessment process focuses on what is important to you, including what you are capable of doing as well as the things you need help with.
Requesting an assessment
You might have already been offered an assessment – perhaps when you were in hospital. If not, contact your local council’s social services department.
You can do this yourself or ask someone else to do it for you. Your first contact with social services is called a ‘referral’ and it is this ‘referral’ which gets the ball rolling.
Waiting for an assessment
You might have to wait a few weeks for your assessment to happen so if your situation is urgent, mention this when you contact social services.
If things get worse or urgent while you are waiting, let social services know so they can arrange for you to have support prior to your formal assessment.
Different kinds of assessments
Councils have different approaches to carrying out assessments and not all will send someone to your home in the first instance.
There might be one person – a social worker, nurse or occupational therapist – carrying out several types of assessments at the same time, perhaps one for adaptations in your home and another for your personal care needs. This is simply to avoid duplication and to save you having to repeat yourself.
Finding out what matters to you
At your assessment, you will be asked what you consider important for your own well-being.
It might be that some of the things you can no longer do aren’t very important to you, for example, you don’t feel safe in the kitchen, but your husband or wife is happy to take over the cooking.
Other things may be very important to you, for example, being able to move around your home safely or carrying on working.
The person assessing your care and support needs will also consider your safety and ability to live independently.
Meeting your care and support needs
Once your assessment has been carried out, the social worker or occupational therapist must be clear about what matters to you, and what you can do for yourself to maximise your own well-being and independence.
They must find out if anything is stopping you doing something that is important to you (a barrier) and what might happen if you do not get support (a risk).
The council must then determine whether you have needs which you cannot meet yourself or with the support of family and friends or by using community-based services, for example, a lunch club.
They may offer you advice and information to delay your need for care and support, for example, recommending you attend a course to manage your long-term condition.
On the other hand, the council might decide that your care and support needs can only be met through services they provide or arrange. Everything will be written down in your care and support plan and you will be given a copy.
Paying for services
There is no charge to have your needs assessed. However, if it is decided that you have care and support needs and you want social services to meet those needs, you will be asked to undergo a financial assessment so the council can decide how much, if anything, you should contribute to the cost of your care. You have the right to refuse this.
No-one in Wales will be asked to pay more than £70 a week (April 2017) towards their personal care services, no matter how many hours support they receive.