If you, or someone you know, needs help to do everyday tasks or you’re worried about falling, ask your local authority’s social services department for a free assessment. You can arrange an assessment for a relative or friend if the person agrees (unless they don’t have the capacity to make that decision themselves).
If you’re a carer, you are also entitled to a free carer’s assessment.
Your local authority must assess you to find out if you have needs for care and support. If you are found to have eligible needs, the local authority has a duty to ensure they are met.
What does an assessment involve?
A care needs assessment works out what help or support you need with your care, and how you might get it. A social care professional will usually come to see you, or you may be offered a telephone or online assessment of your needs. Talk to them about any difficulties you have in looking after yourself and the impact these have on your wellbeing. For example, if you are finding it difficult to wash and get dressed or open cupboards.
Ask a friend or relative to be with you during an assessment. It is a good idea to ask your friend or relative to take notes of what is discussed so you have a record. You can use an advocate if you can’t get a friend or relative. These are people who sit with you during an assessment and speak for you. They can also help you to fill in forms. Your local authority will be able to put you in touch with an advocate service.
Care services at home
Carers can provide care at your home. For example, they could visit to help you with washing and meal preparation, cleaning and shopping. Most local councils charge for the services they provide in your home. Your local council will work out how much you can afford to pay, and this should leave you with a reasonable level of income.
Arranging private care
Of course, if you had sufficient financial resources, you could choose to organise care services entirely independently of the local authority. However, even if you did opt for arranging services privately, it can still be helpful to get an initial assessment of your care needs from the local authority prior to arranging your services. Your social services department should also be able to provide you with details of approved private agencies.
Private agencies must be registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales.
Adaptations and equipment
If equipment or adaptations are required, an occupational therapy (OT) assessment may be of benefit. An occupation therapist can advise on suitable disability equipment or adaptations to make your life easier and help you to be as independent as possible. An OT looks at all aspects of your daily life to see what activities you find difficult and whether there’s another way you could do them. Following an OT assessment, a care plan should be agreed with you and a copy given to you. This will detail what needs you have and what could help to meet those needs. It will also explain what adaptations they’re going to recommend and why.
Arranging your own OT assessment
An OT assessment from your local authority is free. However, this can take time and there may be a waiting list. If you can afford it, you can organise an OT assessment yourself. The Royal College of Occupational Therapists lists qualified and registered occupational therapists.
Disability Advice Project have used the services of Enable Me Solutions, who offer private Occupational Therapy (OT) across South Wales. They have extensive experience in housing adaptations, equipment provision and care plans that help enable you to be as independent as possible.
Am I entitled to help with paying for disability equipment or home adaptations?
There are many solutions aimed at helping you to remain independent. Your home needs to work for you, so it is a good idea to put together a list of things you struggle with and consider what changes could be made to make tasks easier and safer. For example, if you use a wheelchair, widening door frames and changing the direction that doors open could make it easier to get around.
Local authorities and housing associations have a budget to pay for small changes to your home. These are not means-tested (based on your income and savings). If you do not own your home, you will need permission from your landlord to make any changes to physical features. If you count as disabled under the Equality Act, you have the right to reasonable adjustments.
Adaptations could include:
- grab rails/banister rails
- simple ramps or steps
- intercom system
- motion-sensor lights
- a wall fixed shower seat
- grab rails in the bathroom
Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG)
For more expensive home adaptations, you can apply to your council for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). A means test may apply for any work recommended.
These changes can include things like:
- fitting a stairlift
- walk-in shower
- downstairs toilet
- through floor lifts
- door widening
There is also a wide range of household equipment and gadgets that you can purchase to make everyday tasks easier including:
Using the bathroom and toilet
- Long-handled sponges
- Long-handled bottom wiper
- Foot-cleaning mats
- Inflatable bathing cushion
Cooking and eating
- Assistive tin, bottle and jar openers
- A trolley to help you move food and drink
- Easy-reach grabbers to help pick up items
- Hooks to help pull zips, undo buttons and pull jackets on
- A long-handled shoehorn to help put on your shoes
- Gadgets to help put socks, tights and pants on
- A key safe so carers can let themselves in
- A wearable personal alarm you press to call for help
- A fall detector that alerts a response centre if you have fallen
Can I use my assessment to support my Personal Independence Payment (PIP) claim?
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can help you with some of the extra costs if you have a long term physical or mental health condition or disability. The amount you get depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself. You’ll be assessed to work out the level of help you can get.
Evidence from a healthcare professional on how your condition affects you can help to give the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) a clearer picture when claiming PIP. This could be a letter, report or care plan. Always check if there’s a fee before you ask them to provide supporting evidence. Explain that you would like to use their report to support your claim. Ask them to send their report to you and not directly to the DWP. This allows you to check you are happy with their report and that it will support your claim.
The evidence should discuss how your condition limits your ability to do the 12 tasks the DWP will assess. These are:
- preparing a cooked meal
- eating and drinking
- managing your treatments
- washing and bathing
- managing toilet needs or incontinence
- dressing and undressing
- communicating verbally
- reading and understanding written information
- mixing with others
- making decisions about money
- planning and following journeys
- moving around
Don’t delay returning your PIP claim form or attending an assessment because you’re waiting on supporting evidence from a healthcare professional. You can send supporting evidence after your PIP claim form has been sent, as long as it is received before a decision is made (just let the DWP know when you plan to send this supporting evidence).
How can the Disability Advice Project help?
Our friendly advisers have plenty of experience with home adaptations and PIP claims. We can help you fill in the forms and collate the evidence needed to support your claim. We will support you throughout the process and help ensure you get the benefits and support you are entitled to.
Useful links to other organisations offering support
You can get support and care from the British Red Cross to help you live independently at home or when you return after a stay in hospital. You can hire a wheelchair and toilet aids from the British Red Cross for short-term use.
Scope offers a range of support services for disabled people. This includes information on disability equipment and assistive technology, housing and home adaptations.
Care and Repair helps older people across Wales live in safety and comfort in their own homes. Its services include assisting you to improve, repair or adapt your home and are available to individuals aged 55 or over, or of any age with a disability.
Age Cymru offers free advice to older people on topics such as benefits and arranging care.