What is an Assessment?

An assessment looks broadly at all ones needs and well-being so that there is a greater understanding of what may be needed to make life better. It encompasses not only physical but social, emotional and spiritual health and each of these issues are looked at carefully and sensitively. An assessment is not approached with any outcome in mind and conclusions and recommendations are only made once the assessment is completed.

Assessment process

The assessment is usually undertaken by one person although it should be done in consultation with other health professionals. During the assessment the assessor will consult with the person (and with their consent, the family/whanau) and possibly use a computer based assessment programme. Lots of questions will be asked and at some stage one may be seen by a doctor or other health professionals such as physiotherapist or occupational therapist. On completion of the assessment, the outcome will be discussed involving if possible or appropriate the family/whanau and a support plan (often including the goals that have been identified) put into place. (If the assessment indicates the need for support services then someone who has skills in service coordination may also be contacted to help to arrange these.) You will be given A copy of the assessment will be given which will also show the type and level of any support that may be required.

During the process if one doesn’t feel that their real concerns and issues are being addressed, they are encouraged to say so. There is provision for a review if requested. There is a current trend to a more client and family centred approach where the aim is to encourage independence and to help achieve the goals and things that are important.

An assessment may occur on referral (when the need for medical or other input may be identified), following specialist advice and treatment of medical conditions or following rehabilitation. It can be conducted at ones home or another domestic/community setting and sometimes in a health facility e.g. the hospital following an inpatient stay. Assessment services are free to New Zealand residents.

How to obtain an assessment

You can contact your local service yourself, or you can ask your doctor to refer you. Your initial contact is considered, prioritised and then passed on to the relevant part of the service. You should be notified if you are placed on a waiting list. If you have referred yourself your doctor may be contacted for further information. If you phone these services yourself and get an answer phone, leave a message giving your name and phone number and someone will get back to you.

Benefits of having an assessment

     You will be put in touch with people who have considerable expertise in this field. Their knowledge is valuable.

     There will be a coordinated team approach (i.e. comprising of doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers etc) to identify the issues that might impact on your ability to be as independent as possible.

     You will have access to specialist advice as required (as above)

     You may have access to a rehabilitation programme

     If you want to access any subsidised services you must be assessed as requiring these. You will be advised as to whether you meet eligibility criteria

Note: If you are not eligible for subsidised support services you may purchase them yourself.

Phone Review of subsidised services

If you have been assessed as requiring subsidised services then these services may be reviewed over the phone.  If this is the purpose of such a phone call you should be told this at the beginning of the conversation.  A phone review is usually made because consideration of your situation indicates that your needs may have lessened or that you may no longer meet the criteria for funded services.  A phone review is important; significant decisions can be made at this time.  It is important that you 'tell it like it really is'.


The following tips should help to ensure that the assessor gets a good understanding of your situation:

     If you are caught unawares and are not prepared for the questions you can ask the assessor to call back.

     Don't put on a 'brave face'.  If things are difficult for you, say so.

     It is often helpful to arrange to have a support person with you when the assessor calls. You can ask the assessor to talk to them too.

     If you think a phone review will not do your situation justice ask to see the assessor 'face to face'.

If you are not happy with the outcome you can ask for a review.  An independent advocacy service is available.

Assessment and residential care

In the past people were often encouraged to enter residential facilities long before care or support was really needed; the death of a spouse being a common trigger. Understandably many of these folk lived to a good old age so that when they eventually ran out of their own money they required a government subsidy (sometimes without requiring the corresponding care). Not only did this arrangement deprive many of these people of their independence, it was also not cost effective for them or the government.

Nowadays things have changed. With advances in health care and technology people are living longer. Treatment and rehabilitation successes are also better. People are now able to stay in their own homes and receive care and support there. Even the services that residential facilities now provide have changed in that they give much more intensive care than they did in the past.  Greater support from family/whanau is also encouraged.

Access to residential care is now more closely monitored and the threshold to entry is high. Health policy states that unless someone has been assessed as requiring residential care then the Government will not guarantee the granting of a subsidy if they exhaust their own funds. In practical terms, this means that people no longer have the freedom to enter a residential facility whenever they choose. Appropriateness and eligibility are now determined by the assessment. Generally managers of residential facilities will not agree to admit someone prior to assessment. If they do admit private paying people they are required to inform them of the health authority’s policy regarding this situation.

Updated 4-11-2010

© Eldernet 2014