The law surrounding community care assessments is notoriously difficult to grasp as it involves a spider’s
web of diffuse Acts of Parliament and guidance, involving both local authorities
and the NHS, all linked together in a somewhat translucent whole.  Despite these difficulties, we must not forget
that these assessments are designed to identify a genuine need and the support
designed to meet that need. In this article I will be focusing mainly on adults
but the principals identified generally apply to assessing the needs of

Perhaps the best way to
understand the process is to run through it with a hypothetical example
involving Teresa Smith an unemployed, intelligent 25 year old single woman with
Asperger’s syndrome who has some history of mental health difficulties.   Teresa
finds organising her life vey difficult and stressful and she is socially

Teresa is likely to be classified
as a disabled person who may well qualify for support services, albeit the
definition of disability used can be somewhat outdated. Given Teresa has a
disability she will be entitled to a community care assessment.   It is
worth pointing out that disabilities include both physical and mental
disabilities and also that people like Teresa who have an IQ over 70 are not
automatically excluded.

There is no need to request a
community care assessment as the relevant bodies need to be proactive; in
practice it is often necessary to write to the local authority to request an
assessment. In Teresa’s case the request letter may look like this:

Dear Director of Social Services

Re: Ms Teresa Smith [insert DOB
and address]

I am the [name relationship with
for Teresa Smith of who has asked me to assist her in obtaining an
assessment of her need for community care services pursuant to s 47 National Health Service and Community
Care Act 1990

Ms Smith has a diagnosis of [name
which are associated with [list impairments]. It is reasonable to assume that Ms Smith may
need [list support services that may be

I would request that a social worker contact Ms Smith in the near
future to carry out the said assessment.

Finally, I would be grateful if you acknowledged receipt of this

Teresa will be assessed in
accordance with an eligibility framework that will determine which of her needs
are critical, substantial, moderate or low. Though resources are a factor when
framing eligibility criteria they cannot be used as the only factor to consider
when allocating resources to meet a person needs. Furthermore it is almost
certain she will be offered direct payments in order that she can arrange her
own provision.

For adults like Teresa, it is
often advisable that they obtain support from someone who can advocate on their
behalf. In many cases, adults will qualify for publically funded support. Given
this Teresa should think about contacting a local firm of solicitors who specialise
in community care to see if such support is available.

by:Sean Kennedy Legal Advisor for Annakennedyonline


Legal News The Essentials of Community Care Assessments