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The social care journey explained


If you (or someone on your behalf) wants to tell us about how you manage with daily tasks, you can:


Some people with long-term complex health needs qualify for free social care arranged and funded solely by the NHS. This is known as NHS continuing healthcare.



What does the self-assessment do?

You will answer some quick online questions about your current situation and how you manage with daily tasks. It is available to use 24 hours a day and it is for people aged 18 or over.  

When complete, the self assessment will direct you towards information, advice and support that could help you to live independently and improve your wellbeing

It will also recommend if you would benefit from speaking to a member of the Staffordshire Cares team to discuss the information in more detail. 

If so, use the self assessment form to send your information on to us and an advisor will be in touch to talk to you about the information you have given. 


Care and support needs asssessments are free of charge and are available for anyone over the age of 18.

It is a discussion with you about what your current strengths are and areas where you may need some support. We can guide you to the sort of help you could benefit from.

If you would like a needs assessment you can contact us.

Please note: we aim to carry out assessments within 28 days. We may have to prioritise and some people may have to wait longer. A social care practitioner or social care assessor will contact you and arrange a phone call or a visit.


You may need an assessment if you are having difficulties managing with your daily activities and tasks, finding it hard to get out of the house or even just coping with day to day life.

You can ask us to arrange for someone to assess you. If you are already receiving a service and you feel that your needs have changed, you can ask for a review.


The needs assessment and support planning process should consist of four parts:

  • an assessment of your needs and circumstances
  • a decision as to whether any of the assessed needs should be met by the local authority under its eligibility criteria (i.e. decision to provide services)
  • a plan for how they are going to meet these needs (the care and support plan)
  • financial assessment to find out what, if anything you will have to pay and the amount of any direct payments that will be made towards your care and support.

The needs assessment may be carried out by:

  • a social care practitioner, also sometimes known as a care manager or key worker
  • an occupational therapist or an assistant working under close supervision

Please note: it is important that the person being assessed and the people who support them are actively involved in the process so that they are in control of their care and support plan.


There are a number of ways in which you can get a needs assessment including:

  • self-referral
  • a referral from a carer, friend or family member
  • a referral from a professional such as your GP, with your permission

Once we are aware that you may have needs, we have a duty to make sure that you have an assessment.

Requesting a needs assessment

You will need to contact Staffordshire Cares, where one of our advisors will ask you a few questions about your situation. This is so they can provide suitable information and advice and refer you to the right people to carry out your needs assessment.

What do I need to do?

Throughout the whole assessment we will involve you. We will make sure that the process is appropriate to you.

It is flexible and identifies what your strengths are and identifies the areas where you need support in order to achieve your goals.

Things you may want to think about in preparation

These could be about how you manage your day to day routines and activities such as:

  • washing
  • dressing
  • maintaining health and keeping active
  • accessing the local community
  • managing your home

An assessment starts by considering your strengths, the support you can get within your community and then how other services or equipment could meet your care and support needs. 

It is vital that you give as much detail about your day to day life as possible. Think about all aspects of your life, such as:

  • personal care
  • washing
  • showering
  • dressing
  • going to the toilet
  • preparing meals
  • shopping

It is to:

  • understand your strengths and the things you enjoy, as well as the areas of your life that may be difficult for you. This will include your cultural or spiritual needs
  • support you to understand your situation and what you can do to reduce or delay the need for social care support
  • identify needs that could be reduced, or delayed by providing short term support (reablement) or with advice and information
  • understand how you manage throughout the day. This could be practical tasks such as washing, dressing and getting around your home
  • establish how your needs impact on your daily life and your well-being
  • see whether you are able to get involved in activities in your local community. Are you struggling to attend activities that you used to enjoy and are important to you?
  • see if you are able to see or speak to family and friends
  • understand the needs of your carer if you have one
  • look at the caring responsibilities you might have for someone else
  • understand what you would like to be able to achieve - your goals in life
  • check your safety around the house and when you are out

Following this process, a decision will then be made about your  eligibility for local authority funded care and support.


If you would like to have someone to help you, like a family member or close friend whilst undergoing the assessment, this is okay. You will need to give your consent for them to help you, and try to make sure you are fully involved in completing the assessment if you can.

If you are not able to be fully involved and do not have friends or family to help, you can be referred to an advocate who can help you.


After a needs assessment, the assessor will decide whether or not the council should provide or arrange care and support services for you under the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria must comply with national guidance issued by the Government to promote fairness and consistency.

Following a needs assessment a care and support plan must always be discussed, agreed and written down. You or your representative should be provided with a copy of it. This tells you the services you have been assessed as needing and how they will be arranged.


If you are not happy with the outcome of the needs assessment, ask for a copy of it, including the reasons why the help cannot be offered.

You can then use the appropriate complaints procedure to challenge the needs assessment.


Who do I contact?

If you have had an assessment and you have a named social care worker then you should contact them directly.

Who else can I contact?

Please get in touch with the Staffordshire Cares team and we will assist you.

Staffordshire Assist are an out of hours emergency British Sign Language interpreting service that can help you.

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Printable version of factsheet - steps on your journey in adult social care (157 KB).



Who are Staffordshire Cares?

Staffordshire Cares are a team of skilled call handlers who can provide information, advice and guidance and can process social care enquires.

What happens when I contact Staffordshire Cares?

Our focus will be on helping you to retain your independence and wellbeing and a member of the team will talk to you about your situation. Initially you may be offered information, advice and guidance or given the contact details of other agencies who'll be able to help.

The team may also recommend an initial assessment of how the person in need of support manages with daily tasks. This will include carrying out personal care, preparing food and drink, getting around, managing home and money and relationships with family and friends.

Depending on the outcome of the initial assessment, a more in depth care needs assessment may be recommended and a referral made to decide if you qualify for support under the Care Act 2014.

How do I contact Staffordshire Cares?

Please see our contact page.

Who do I contact if I have already been in touch with Staffordshire Cares?

If you have already been in touch with Staffordshire Cares, had a needs assessment and now have a care package in place, please contact your social work team directly.

Further information

Care and support is changing


An easy read guide is available on Bolton Council's website.

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