What is an assessment of needs?
If you are having difficulty looking after yourself or a member of your family, you can ask your local council’s social care department to carry out ‘an assessment of need‘. They will look at how you cope with your day-to-day activities and may be able to recommend or supply some simple aids or adaptations to help you. Many simple aids can be provided on long term loan, often free of charge, allowing you to remain independent.
If you need help with tasks such as paying bills, organising shopping or meals, taking part in leisure activities you may be able to get help or advice from your local housing support team. Your local Council will have details of organisations offering support in your local area, or you can contact our helpline on 0300 323 9961 for further information.
You can find a list of the local authorities in Scotland
How can I get one?
You can contact your local council’s social care department and ask for an assessment of needs yourself.
In addition, you can ask someone else to do this on your behalf:
- a family member or friend
- GP or other health professional
- housing officer
- welfare rights officer
- your carer
When you contact your local social care team you will be asked a few questions to determine how urgent your needs are. It is possible to get support put in place before an assessment of needs is arranged if your needs are urgent. The waiting time for an assessment will depend on your needs.
What will happen during my assessment?
Most commonly an Occupational Therapist (OT) will come and visit you in your home to discuss with you what your needs are. Other people who may do your assessment with you are social workers, district nurses or other health professionals.
The person assessing your needs will ask you questions about your needs and what sort of support you would like. They will write this down in a form and ask you to sign it.
If you wish a family member, friend, or an advocate can be present during the assessment.
For more information on Advocacy see our Independent Advocacy Information Guide
Call our helpline if you need some guidance in finding an advocate near you: 0300 323 9961
What support is available to me?
There are a range of support services that may be available to help you live as independently as possible:
- Personal care
- Aids or equipment
- Respite or a short break
- Help with household tasks
What financial support is available?
If you are assessed as needing services which are chargeable, such as personal care for under 65’s, help with housework, shopping, or provision of meals, the Council will also carry out a financial assessment to decide how much, if anything, you need to pay towards the cost of services.
Personal care is free to those aged over 65 in Scotland and is provided to those who have been assessed as being at critical or substantial risk.
Local councils have limited resources and are unable to help everyone. They all have eligibility criteria to identify people with the greatest need but even if you do not meet these criteria for receiving assistance, the Social Work team will signpost you to other organisations who may be able to help.
What happens after an assessment?
Following your assessment, you should be given a copy of the decision and a review date which is commonly after 6 months. If your circumstances change then you can request a review of your needs at any time.
You should be told the length of time it will be until your support is put in place and you may have to wait a few weeks if there is a long waiting list.
If you do not agree with the way the assessment was carried out, or with the decision that has been made then there are steps you can take:
- You can try discussing your assessment with the social work department
- You can put in a complaint following your local council’s complaints procedure
- You can put in a complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.
If you do wish to make a complaint you can contact your local Citizen’s Advice for advice on doing this.
Information last updated on 17 May 2022. Please note that information may be subject to change. All information is provided in good faith but Disability Information Scotland does not endorse any product or service referred to within this resource.
If you would like this information guide in another version then please contact us and we will post or email you a copy.
Aids, Equipment & Adaptations, Health & Social Care:Frequently Asked Questions
Through our helpline we receive enquiries spanning a wide range of different topics. Here is a selection of those most asked:
How can I get an adaptation made to my house?
Housing adaptations can reduce the risk of accidents at home and promote independence.
If you are disabled, or someone in your home is disabled, you may get help with a wide range of adaptations to your home. Examples of adaptations include:
- Replacing a bath with a level access shower.
- Making it easier to get into and out of the house by widening doors or making a ramp.
- Fitting lower worktops in a kitchen.
Smaller adaptions can also be made, such as:
- Fitting a grab rail
- Provision of a shower chair
In most cases, as a starting point you should contact your local Social Work Department and ask for an Assessment of Needs, which is usually done by an Occupational Therapist (O.T.).
For further information see our Disabled Home Adaptations Information Guide.
Am I eligible for VAT relief on disability equipment?
In general, disabled people do not have to pay VAT on goods and services that are designed/ or adapted solely for use by disabled people. These goods and services are often called ‘zero-rated’ or ‘eligible for VAT relief’.
The majority of suppliers will know if their product has been specifically designed to help disabled people. They will offer their products free of VAT at the point of sale.
You’ll need to confirm in writing that you meet these conditions. Your supplier may give you a form for this.
Most suppliers will use the Notice 701/7 VAT relief for disabled people form.
For further information see our VAT Exemption for Disabled Goods Information Guide or call our helpline on 0300 323 9961.
I am going on holiday, how do I hire a mobility scooter or wheel chair when I am there?
If you are staying within the UK you can search for a Shop Mobility local to where you are going. Another option would be to search for local mobility equipment providers.
The Mobility Equipment Hire Direct is a one stop shop to hire a wide range of mobility equipment in a variety of destinations from anywhere in the world using your chosen currency and in your chosen language.
Helpline: 0300 323 9961
For further information on hiring equipment away from home check out our Accessible Holidays Information Guide
I’m struggling getting in and out of my bath, is there any support that I can get?
Often we get individuals phoning because they are struggling with getting in and out of their bath. The first step would be to contact your local social work department to arrange an Assessment of Needs. You might be eligible to get an adaptation, such as a walk in shower, made to your bathroom. For more information see our Assessment of Needs Information Guide.
Aids, Equipment & Adaptations, Health & Social Care:Search for Local Organisations
Our quick search tool can connect you to over 3000 service providers, suppliers and organisations supporting people across Scotland. To find support near you, simply enter your search term and select your local authority.