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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Community care in South Thames (West) Region: is needs assessment working?

The objective of this study was to review the processes by which individuals' needs are being assessed and related to local eligibility criteria under the new arrangements for community care. An audit of the assessment process, definitions and measurement of need against Department of Health guidance was undertaken across the eight social services departments in South Thames (West) region. The results showed there is no standard approach to assessing needs: all social services have developed different assessment processes and different criteria for identifying needs. None use standardised measures of dependency such as the Barthel Index. Scales for measuring dependency have been developed locally so are not comparable between local authorities. Whilst local authorities have published eligibility criteria, in the main, these are purely descriptive accounts with considerable variation in practice in how local authorities are determining eligibility for services. In many authorities there remains ambiguity as to whether published eligibility criteria relate to eligibility for assessment or eligibility for services. Only one authority had attempted to quantify population needs and service provision in advance of setting its eligibility criteria. In conclusion, information collected on individuals cannot be aggregated for use in population-based planning, nor for monitoring purposes in any of the eight local authorities. National guidance is required on definitions of need and eligibility criteria. There is a need for a standardised core community data set, which embraces both health and social care.[1]


  1. Community care in South Thames (West) Region: is needs assessment working? Leicester, M.C., Pollock, A.M. Public health. (1996) [Pubmed]
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