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Needs assessments for adults

A needs assessment is often the first step towards getting the help and support you need.

A needs assessment (also called a community care assessment) is an opportunity for you to tell us about your circumstances and discuss your care needs. The aim is to reach an agreement about what help can be provided by Merton Council's Community Care Department.

What happens at a needs assessment

During a needs assessment, a member of the Community Care Team will ask how you are managing to take care of yourself and what help you feel you may need.

The discussion in a needs assessment may include:

  • what care tasks can you do for yourself?
  • what care tasks do you need help with?
  • what care tasks can you not do at all?
  • what help do you have at present?
  • what is the best way to provide the help you need?

The discussions will only include questions which are necessary to decide what help you need.

You will speak with a trained contact worker who can provide information and signposting.

If your enquiry is complex or if you need an assessment you will either be transferred directly to a member of one of our specialist social services teams, or we will take basic details from you and arrange for an appropriate member of our specialist social services team to call you back.

Our social services team member will discuss your situation with you in depth, provide information and advice, and may arrange services or a visit from our staff to assess your needs so that we can provide further help.

If you are an existing client of Adult Social Services we will put you through to the person looking after your case, or take basic details from you for them to call you back.


Completing a needs assessment

A member of the Community Care Team will be allocated to complete your assessment and manage your agreed care package.

Primarily, you and your views and wishes will be central to the assessment and with your permission we will take into account the views of your family, friends and other people who know your circumstances, such as your GP and other health professionals.

Merton is committed to meeting the needs of a diverse community and will arrange a language interpreter where required to assist you in making your views known during the assessment.


How long it takes

The Community Care Department receives requests for assessments from a large number of people and consequently gives priority to those people in most urgent need.

If this is the first time you have been referred, the Community Care Department will aim to begin your assessment within 48 hours, particularly if you are an older person.

The time taken to complete an assessment will vary depending on your situation and the complexity of the help you need. If you have complex needs, which require a very detailed assessment with input from specialist health professionals, some services may be put in place prior to the assessment process ending.

Usually assessments will be completed within 4 weeks.

In emergency situations, where someone is considered to be at great risk, interim services will be provided until the assessment is complete.


Carers assessment

If somebody you know cares for you, without payment, they might benefit from a carers assessment. Find out more about carers assessments.


Financial contributions

Will I be expected to pay for any services that I receive?

You may be asked to pay for your services in full or make a small contribution to the overall cost. These charges are based on your ability to pay, which is determined by the completion of a financial assessment.

What is a financial assessment and how is it completed?

A financial assessment will take into account income, out goings and savings. If you are on a very low income (income support level and below) and have no savings there will be no charge. If you have a higher income and/or savings you will be assessed to pay a contribution towards the total cost of your service package. Charging arrangements are in accordance with Department of Health Guidelines.

Can I be financially supported to buy in my own care from a provider of my own choosing?

Yes it is possible for the Community Care Department to give you the money to buy your own care, rather than purchase it on your behalf. This system, which is called ‘Direct Payments’, enables you to purchase care directly from friends or neighbours. If you choose to use this system you will be responsible for recruiting and employing care staff, organising their day-day tasks and keeping records of expenditure.


After the assessment

What happens once the assessment process has been completed?

Once the assessment has been completed you will be sent a:

  • Statement of need, which is a written document that outlines all of the needs identified during your assessment.
  • Care plan, which indicates if and how those needs are to be addressed, detailing which type of service has been agreed as best able to assist/support you.
  • Service schedule or plan, which will tell you which organisation or agency, will provide the service you require and when the service will start.

At this point you will be receiving most, if not all of the services that the community care team agreed to provide.


Service provision

Whilst the Community Care Department want to support as many people as possible, there is a duty to ensure that the services go to those who most need them. Whether you qualify for a service will depend on your level of identified need when matched against set eligibility criteria. The eligibility criterion consists of four bands as laid down by the Government. These are:

  • Critical Needs - Life is threatened/significant health problems. At risk of serious physical or mental abuse or neglect. Little or no choice and control over vital aspects of the immediate environment.
  • Substantial Needs - Only partial choice and control over the immediate environment. Abuse or neglect has occurred or will occur. There is, or will be, an inability to carry out the majority of personal care or domestic routines.
  • Moderate Needs - An inability to carry out several personal care or domestic routines.
  • Low needs- An inability to carry out one or two personal care or domestic routines.

The community Care Department will meet any identified needs that are critical or substantial, but not those that are moderate or low. However, there may be voluntary service organisations that can help you with these.


Appeals process

If you do not agree with the conclusions of the assessment you can ask for the decisions to be reconsidered. You also have the right to complain if you are dissatisfied with an assessment decision or the way in which your assessment was completed.



Your needs and the services provided will be reviewed on a regular basis. This is to ensure both that you still require the services and that what is provided still meets your needs, which may have changed.


Request a needs assessment

Please contact one of the following teams.

Contact name Telephone and email Address

Adult First Response Team
Older People and Physical Disability



From 9.30am-1.30pm Monday to Friday on:
Telephone: 020 8545 4388
Minicom: 020 8545 4626

In case of an emergency between
1.30pm-5pm Monday to Friday,
please contact the Crisis Line on 07903 235 382

Out of Hours Service 5.30pm-9.00am Monday-Sunday on
Telephone: 020 8770 5000

Adult First Response
Older People and Physical Disability
Merton Civic Centre,
London Road

Morden, Mitcham and Wimbledon
Community Mental Health Teams


020 3458 5580 Morden
020 8544 9799
The Wilson Hospital Cranmer Road
Surrey CR4 4PT
Merton Community Alcohol and Drugs Team 020 8687 4666

The Wilson Hospital Cranmer Road
Surrey CR4 4PT

Mascot community alarm scheme

020 8274 5940

Mascot Telecare
Merton Civic Centre,
London Road