Post No23…Explaining Care Needs Assessments in care homes

Post No23…Explaining Care Needs Assessments in care homes
Photo by Jan Kahánek / Unsplash


The care needs assessment is an important and pivotal part of the process when moving into a care home. Admissions into a care home seldom happen without them, and they go on to form the foundations of the new resident’s initial care plan.

In the winter, particularly around Christmas time, hospitals are hoping to discharge as many patients into social care settings as they can, to prevent bed blocking. This means timeframes are very tight and stress levels can be very high for families.

With that said, this post is going to further explain the assessment process in relation to care homes, why it is important, and what outcomes care homes are seeking when completing them.

So, why are Care Needs Assessments Important?

Fundamentally, care needs assessments are important because you pretty much cannot be admitted into a care home without one. They can, however, be done in different ways and come in different forms. For example, during Covid, all care need assessments were completed over the telephone, with the care home gathering info from the hospital / family, and perhaps additional notes from a GP or other professional, such as a Social Worker.

The assessments are also important because they form the initial care plan, that every resident must have before being admitted. Information about things like allergies and medications simply cannot be learned retrospectively, meaning the home needs to have a care plan in place prior to the resident moving in, which they develop from the assessment.

Did you know? If a care home declines an admission, they are not obliged to explain why...

What are the outcomes of a Care Needs Assessment?

Once families have researched care homes and a home has been chosen, the next stage is the care needs assessment. This means that, prior to the assessment, the home cannot confirm they are able to accept the admission. Reasons care homes may decline an admission are mainly:

· The persons clinical care needs are too high for the home to safely manage, or

· The person’s behaviours are not manageable

The first point above is perhaps a more likely response if the chosen home is a residential only home; it may also happen in a nursing home but it is less likely. The latter point is usually linked to challenging behaviours due to dementia, and sometimes a more specialist dementia home is required.

If the outcome of the assessment is positive, the home will be able to confirm 3 things:

· Firstly, they will confirm they can safely manage and the admission can proceed

· They will be able to confirm which care type they feel the person needs, and

· The cost

Having this confirmation often removes a lot of tension from the situation, because the families are normally relieved that the placement has been agreed.

Who does them?

There are many professionals who can do care needs assessments, but for the purpose of this post, if you are moving into a care home, it is the home who does the assessment, normally a manager, clinical lead or sometimes a nurse manager.

What is the turnaround time?

Most care homes will want to get assessments done as a priority, because they are linked to the home’s occupancy and thus revenues. Also, any assessment taking place in a hospital needs to be speedy so the hospital can then re-admit patients into beds, which in the winter is of the highest importance.

With that said, most care homes (unless otherwise planned) will want to assess within 24-48 hours of the assessment request.

How long are they?

Most assessments are between 30-45 minutes, but in more complex cases they might be an hour.

How are they completed?

Best practice is for assessments to be completed in person, normally with a family member present. The assessor will learn information from both the person but also their next of kin, to get the best possible understanding of the care needs.

If the person lives a long way away, or are in hospital which is in lockdown, then assessments are completed remotely. If this is the case, Patient Summery notes maybe requested to gain an understanding of a person’s medical history, including notes on allergies and medications. If the person is in hospital, the same information can be provided through the hospital’s notes.

Do they go out of date?

Yes, they do. Most assessments have a ‘shelf life’ of about 2 weeks, because things can quickly change and its crucial the assessment is current and up to date. If an assessment becomes outdated, it may have to be re-visited for the home to check for updates or changes.


It is important to note that the assessment process does not bind you to the home, but it does provide re-assurance the home believes it can safely manage a person’s care needs, which is a huge step in this process.

Assessments of this nature also provide confirmation of the home’s fees, which means budgeting can be fully considered and planned once it has been complete.

Ultimately, care needs assessments provide answers, making them an important part of the process when moving a person into a care home.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, The Care Whisperer, talking about care in a way that no one else is. If you would like to be made aware of future content, please hit the subscribe button and I’ll look forward to seeing you next time.