Care assessment process in Northern Ireland

A community care assessment tells a Health and social care (HSC) trust about the help a person needs. This is followed by a review of their social care needs and may also be followed by a financial assessment.

Community care assessment

Help and support services will be arranged through the social services department of an HSC trust.

Each trust has a duty to assess the specific needs of people with dementia living in that area who may require support, and to meet these needs.

If someone with dementia or their carer feels that they need extra help or support, they can approach the social services department of their trust and ask to have their care needs assessed.

The trust has to carry out this community care assessment when it appears someone may need services.

Social care needs

Following the community care assessment, the person's needs are reviewed to decide whether they require social care services.

The trust will have criteria that help them to decide if a person's needs make them eligible for services the trust provides, arranges or pays for through direct payments. The trust may also carry out a financial assessment as part of this process (see below).

If applying eligibility criteria, the trust will consider the risk to the person as a result of their care needs. The trust considers risk in four categories - low, moderate, substantial and critical. These categories are outlined in regional guidance and are available from the relevant trust upon request.

A trust must provide care to people that have been assessed as being at either substantial or critical risk. If someone has a moderate or low risk, the trust is not legally required to provide care or support but should refer the person to voluntary sector organisations where support may be available.

Financial assessment

A financial assessment is used to work out who should pay for the care and support a person needs. The trust may carry out an assessment to determine how much money they should contribute to a person's care, and whether the person has to pay anything towards it themselves.

The trust may carry out a financial assessment if a person requires social care services in their own home, or a placement in a nursing home or residential care home. Depending on the outcome of the financial assessment, the trust may not make a contribution towards all services a person may need. However, they will contribute to things like home help and residential care.

The financial assessment usually involves the person or their carer completing some forms about their finances. Someone from the HSC trust may also visit the person to ask questions about their finances and fill in the forms on their behalf.

Some people find it uncomfortable talking about their financial circumstances during this visit. However, it is important to be honest. If you don't share information, you may end up having to pay for services that would otherwise have been free.

Some of the forms include a space for the partner or spouse of the person with dementia to include their own financial information. However, the HSC trust should only assess the person who actually needs the service. Any joint accounts, investments or savings should be divided, and only the share belonging to the person with dementia should be included on the form.

If you have questions about the financial assessment, ask the person conducting the interview. Alternatively, the finance department of the HSC trust will be able to provide assistance and support with the process.

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