As a deafblind person there is an assessment process journey, from determining that you would like an assessment through to a completed assessment which considers all your needs as a deafblind person. Whilst this journey may vary geographically, there are key steps which should occur in each journey.
At the point of making a request for a specialist deafblind assessment to completion of that assessment there is no legal timescale, no set time period is set nationally. The local authority is required to complete an assessment “over an appropriate and reasonable timescale taking into account the urgency of the needs and a consideration of any fluctuation in those needs” (6.29 Care and Assessment Guidance). In practice this means that if when requesting an assessment you inform the local authority of any urgent needs this could mean the assessment process is prioritised, alternatively they may take an option to meet those urgent needs now whilst continuing the assessment process. If urgent needs are met, the assessment can either continue at the normal pace or can be paused to determine the impact of these immediate interventions.
At all times from the initial request for an assessment the local authority should give an estimated timescale for the assessment, and must keep you informed on the progress of your assessment. This should be provided in a format which is accessible and appropriate to your needs.
All specialist deafblind assessments must be carried out “by a person who has specific training and expertise relating to individuals who are deafblind” and training should be “a minimum of OCN or QCF level 3, or above where the person has higher or more complex needs”
Your local authority is responsible for ensuring that a qualified assessor completes your assessment. They must determine if the assessor is qualified based on your deafblind needs, complexity and impacts. Before accepting any assessor you have the right to ask the local authority to confirm that the assessor is appropriately qualified.
In order to complete a specialist deafblind assessment, the assessor will need to visit and meet with you at least once. This visit should take place at a location in which you are comfortable to discuss your combined sight and hearing loss and a wide range of personal information. Ideally we recommend if you are happy with the assessor entering your home that at least one visit occurs there – this can help ease any nerves you experience as well as give vital opportunities to demonstrate / observe your needs for a range of daily tasks.
A single visit is unlikely to be sufficient to assess your needs as a deafblind person. If you have any needs in relation to communication methods, longer periods of concentration, fatigue or similar multiple visits or at least multiple occasions of contact will be needed. If you find the assessment visit draining, tiring or otherwise difficult to full participate in the assessment you are entitled to ask for that visit or contact to end and to be continued at a later date.
Participating in your assessment
A vital aspect of the Care Act (2014) is the right to be involved in your own assessment, and to be provided with accessible information (in advance if needed), communication support and if required an advocate to enable your participation.
If you require an interpreter to engage with the assessment process then a suitably qualified interpreter must be provided. Even if the assessor has skills in your communication method, it is not appropriate for them to act in both roles a separate interpreter is needed who can meet your communication needs. Using a family member would be inappropriate unless your communication needs are so individually specific that no interpreter would match your needs.
If you require any information in advance of your assessment, such as a letter to outline the subjects the assessor is going to cover, or to confirm the assessment appointment time, or confirm the interpreter this should be sent in your preferred accessible information format. Similarly any information provided during or after the assessment visit must also be provided in your preferred accessible information format.
Where a deafblind person would experience ‘substantial difficulty’ in engaging with and understanding the assessment process and beyond an ‘appropriate person’ must be used to support the involvement in the assessment. An appropriate person can be a family member or where there is no family member able and willing to act or the deafblind individual declines a family member an independent advocate must be provided.
Unlike previous legislation the Care Act (2014) sets out what must be included in an assessment, a specialist deafblind assessment must at least cover your current and potential future needs in:
- Communication: Can you communicate with the general public? Is there a need to learn new methods of communication if sight and / or were to further deteriorate?
- One-to-one human support: To be able to meet your needs do you need a 1:1 trained deafblind worker, to be able to safely guide you and support your communication and information needs?
- Social interaction: Can you independently meet new people? Can you arrange to meet friends / family without relying on them to make the plans and / or providing transport?
- Emotional wellbeing: Are you able to look after your emotional wellbeing? Are you isolated? Lonely? Frustrated?
- Mobility: Can you access local public transport? Can you walk a route to a local shop or your GP?
- Assistive technology: Are you aware of technology? Can you hear the doorbell? The smoke alarm?
- Habilitation/rehabilitation: Could you benefit from help to relearn / improve your daily living skills? To use a long mobility cane?
Hopefully the assessor will enable you to have a relaxed conversation and just guide you around these topics, and not simply ask multiple questions.
This information is relevant to the adult assessment process for the deafblind person only, a similar process exists for carer and children’s assessments. Please contact us for further information.