Why should a couple affected by dementia have their needs assessed by the local authority?
From the March 2015 issue of our magazine, some people might not ask their local authority to assess their needs for care because they feel they are coping or won't qualify for help. Tina Newton, Welfare and Social Care Knowledge Officer, looks at why it is still worth being assessed.
'My partner has dementia and my friend says I should ask social services for a needs assessment, though I don't expect we'll be eligible for help.'
How local authorities in England assess people's needs is changing. It's worth being assessed even if you think you and your partner won't be eligible for support.
Care Act changes
Assessments of need have generally been seen as a way to access services once a person's needs are thought to make them eligible for help.
After the first aspects of England's new Care Act come into force from April, local authorities must undertake an assessment if someone appears to have any level of need.
Even if no eligible needs are identified, information and advice should be provided to promote wellbeing for both you and your partner. This could help to prevent or delay a need for greater levels of care and support later on.
The Care Act also requires all English local authorities to use the same eligibility criteria from April, so in some areas these may be different than they were before.
An assessment should identify the total extent of a person's needs, including needs being met by a carer. It must consider whether you are – and will continue to be – able and willing to provide this care.
Your needs as a carer should also be assessed, including the impact of caring on your desire and ability to work, or to pursue recreational or educational activities. It should also consider how to maintain or improve your wellbeing.
More than coping
You might feel that you are both coping with your circumstances at the moment. However the intention is that you are supported so that your role as a carer is sustainable. An assessment should help to consider what future needs you might have.
See our factsheet Carers: looking after yourself, or call 0300 303 5933 to order.