Self-directed Support : my support, my choice: your guide to social care

A guide to help you if you are getting social care support or if you are thinking of getting support

Your assessment

What is an assessment?

The assessment is one or more talks you have with the professional working with you. During these talks the professional working with you will try to find out:

  • what your needs are, and
  • what things matter to you in your life

The professional will also meet with your carer too (if you have one) to find out their views.

What are needs?

The professional working with you must first find out if you have needs. You could have needs for a number of reasons, like being a disabled person, having mental ill health, being an older person, using drugs or alcohol, or being homeless.

Councils do not have to provide support for all needs. The professional working with you must find out if you have enough needs for the council to provide you with a support service. In other words, they need to assess whether you should have their support.

How does the council decide if I should have support?

The council sets its own rules for this. The local council will look at the level of risk to you if you do not get support.

Usually there are 4 kinds of risk:

Critical Risk: There are lots of risks to your independent living or health if you do not get care and support.
Substantial Risk: There are quite a lot of risks to your independence or health if you do not get care and support.
Moderate Risk: You may need some care and support now or you may be able to manage by yourself or with some help from family and friends.
Low Risk: You are not likely to need care and support services now but may need some information and advice.

Helpful hints

The professional who does the assessment must think about all of your needs and risks. They must also think about:

  • if your needs and risks will change in future
  • what will happen if no support is given to you
  • if you have any needs that may not be easy to see at first
  • what support your carer (if you have one) can or cannot provide

The council should make it easy for anyone to get a copy of their rules and understand them.

What if the council decides I don't need support?

If the council decide you don't need support from them that shouldn't be the end of it.

The professional working with you should help you find other places where you can get support. This could be:

  • your own skills and strengths
  • people you know, such as friends and family
  • other people in your community
  • local charities or support organisations
  • printed information or websites that could help you

Don't be afraid to ask for more information. You can also contact the council again for another assessment if your needs change.

What if the council decides I do need support?

If you do need support, the professional will work with you to find out more about what you need but they will also want to know what matters in your life.

It is important that you are supported to decide which things matter in your life so that any support you arrange doesn't get in the way of these things. The support you agree with the professional working with you might help you to be able to do more of the things that matter to you.

You should be supported to decide:

what is important to you in your life

why these things are important

how to go about doing or getting these things

who will be involved in your life and support

The thing that matters most to you might be changing the way you feel.

"I feel better about myself so I can get out and about again."

"My health is better so I am as well as I can be."

Or it might be keeping something in your life going even if your circumstances are changing:

"I am able to keep in touch with my nieces even though my health is getting worse."

"I am able to go to keep my job even though I have good days and bad days."

Or maybe the thing that matters most is being involved in making decisions about your support:

"My social worker and my support workers listen to me."

Questions to help you identify what matters to you:

  • if you could change your life what would you do first? Then what would you do?
    And then what?
  • what difference would that make to you? To others?
  • where would you be doing this?
  • what sorts of things did you used to really enjoy doing?
  • what would help you to do these things again?

Helpful hints

The professional working with you might call this finding your 'outcomes'. Your outcomes are the things that matter in your life and the impact your support has on your life.

What will my assessment be like?

Every assessment will be different. An assessment should be all about you and your own circumstances. However to help you know what you should expect from your assessment we've listed the top 7 things that make a good assessment.

A good assessment:

1. is a calm and comfortable conversation with a professional

2. considers what the whole of your life is like - not just the needs arising from your impairment or other condition

3. is about your strengths and skills as well as your needs and support

4. is not just about ticking boxes or filling in forms

5. is when you and the professional are open and honest with each other

6. is when you are given enough information and advice to fully take part including independent information from outside the local authority

7. is when your professional listens to you and encourages you to say what you think


For children under 16, the parent or guardian will be more involved in the assessment. It is important that the child is as involved as possible in the decisions about his or her support.

During the child's assessment, both the professional and parent or guardian should be thinking about how the support will help the child's wellbeing by keeping him or her:

Safe: protected from abuse, neglect or harm.
Healthy: having good physical and mental health, and supported to make healthy, safe choices.
Achieving: getting support and help in their learning, boosting their skills, confidence and self-esteem.
Nurtured: having a happy, healthy place to live and grow.
Active: can take part in a wide range of activities - helping them to build a fulfilling and happy future.
Respected: having a say and being involved in the decisions that affect their wellbeing.
Responsible: taking part within their schools and communities.
Included: getting help and guidance to overcome problems and to help them be full members of the communities in which they live and learn.

Who can I involve in my assessment?

Your assessment doesn't have to be a talk between you and the professional working with you only. You can involve other people who can help you by giving you information and advice.

Advice and Information

  • remember you can ask you family members or a friend to help you at this stage
  • you can also get support from a local support organisation.
    Find your local support organisation:
  • could an independent advocate help you to have a stronger voice?
    Find an advocate in your area:


Email: Hetaher Palmer

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