Key points to remember
- if your child has a long-term disability, a needs assessment is the first step towards identifying what disability needs your child may have and what outcomes you want from the process
- service coordination is the process of working with you to explore how best to organise the support and services you need to help your child to be as independent as possible
- assessments and support planning are carried out by Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) services
- as well as discussion with your health professional or social worker, you can also contact your local NASC service and have a chat about whether your child is eligible for a needs assessment before a referral is made
- support to meet your child’s needs may be found from families and friends, community agencies and resources, or from government funded services
What is a needs assessment?
If your child has a long-term disability, a needs assessment is the first step towards identifying what disability support needs your child has. A needs assessment is a process of determining your child’s strengths, needs and goals and what outcomes you want from the process. Support needs may be information, voluntary supports and linking a person to what is available in the community, as well as services that may be available through Government funding.
Who carries out needs assessments?
Assessments are carried out by Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) services. These are organisations contracted by the Ministry of Health, on behalf of the New Zealand Government, to assess the needs of, and coordinate support for, people with disabilities.
Check your region for your local NASC service.
Who is able to get a needs assessment?
NASC services work to specific guidelines about who is eligible to use their services. For example, if your child’s disability is the result of an accident, you will need to deal directly with ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) rather than NASC services.
You can discuss whether your child is eligible for a needs assessment with your local NASC service. NASCs appreciate you providing them with reports from medical specialists. These are helpful in establishing eligibility and can also provide information for the needs assessments.
See the Ministry of Health's website for:
- information about Needs Assessment and Service Coordination services, including who is eligible for a needs assessment
- information about eligibility for health and disability services, including Eligibility for publicly funded services; Eligibility explained and Guide to eligibility for publicly funded services
How do you arrange a needs assessment?
Your doctor or other health professional, disability support group or community organisation, can refer your child to a NASC service. You can also contact a NASC service directly, without a referral from your doctor. You will be asked to provide supporting documentation from a medical practitioner/specialist.
What happens when you request a needs assessment?
Once you’ve requested a needs assessment, an assessment facilitator will make an appointment to come and see you. The facilitator’s role is to listen to you, understand what your disability support needs are, help identify whether your child and family are receiving enough support, where more support is needed and priorities for receiving further help.
You and your facilitator should be partners in the assessment process. You are the expert on your child’s needs. Your knowledge and experience of your child and their disability, and your cultural and personal beliefs, should be respected in this process.
You should be asked where and when you would like the needs assessment to take place. In most cases, the assessment will be done in your home, unless you prefer another location. An appointment should be made for a time that suits you and your child.
You should be asked about who you would like to attend the assessment. You may take a support person such as an advocate, family member/whanau/aiga and/or a friend(s).
What happens once the assessment is complete?
All the information from your child’s assessment will be put together in an assessment report. You will receive a copy. Following the assessment, your needs assessment facilitator will pass on all relevant information to a service coordinator. Your particular NASC (depending on the area you live in) may have one person undertaking both the needs assessment and service coordination tasks. They will tell you how it works. The service coordinator’s role is to assist you to coordinate your own resources if you wish, tell you what other support might be available and what Government funded support your family can be considered for. He or she will help you to access and coordinate these services.
What if you disagree with the assessment or service coordination?
You may have the assessment reviewed if you feel it did not accurately identify your child’s needs or the service coordination support plan does not respond in a satisfactory manner to these needs. Your NASC service will have a process for managing requests for reviews of its decisions. You can request a review if you are not satisfied with the outcome of any part of the NASC process.
If you are unhappy with your NASC service, you can make a complaint. Ask your NASC service about its complaints process and advice on how to make a complaint.
You may withdraw from the assessment process at any time but this may affect your eligibility for disability services.
What should you expect from your NASC service?
- NASC services are expected to work with you in a timely fashion. There should be clear communication about this
- the needs assessment process and the report belong to you and your child. The parent and / or caregiver of a child with a disability must agree with what is written in the report. If you disagree with what is written, you can request changes or request a new assessment
- the needs assessment and service coordinator roles are separate and they are both important. If you do not feel comfortable with the NASC service professionals who assess and coordinate services for your family, don’t be afraid to say this and to ask for someone else
- you may request a needs assessment facilitator who has skill and experience in working with children or young people
- you may request a needs assessment facilitator or service coordinator who is Maori, and for you to be able to communicate in Te Reo Maori
- you may request an interpreter for your assessment if English is not your main language. NASC agencies will try to organise this though it may not be possible to access interpreter services for all languages in all areas of New Zealand
- the family carer’s needs will be taken into account in the assessment process. The assessment report must accurately and fully say to what extent you are able to help your child and with which particular tasks
- during the service coordination process, you should be involved in deciding which services might be best
- your ability to do physically stressful care tasks, such as lifting wheelchairs, may put you at risk of injury. Your physical strengths and needs must be taken into account during assessment for disability equipment such as wheelchairs, and for renovations to make your home spaces disability friendly The assessment facilitator can only identify a need for further assessment by the appropriate health professional. She/he will make that referral with your consent
- if there are other children in the family, their needs will also be taken into account in the assessment process. Encourage the children to participate in assessments and to talk about how caring and disability affect them. Needs assessment facilitators are trained to identify ways to help children providing care and support for a child with a disability
- the confidentiality of your child’s information is protected under the Privacy Act 1993 and Health Information Privacy Code 1994. Information will be shared only with treatment providers and others providing care for your child, including, where necessary, your child’s school. The information may also be used for administrative purposes such as confirming your child’s eligibility for publicly funded treatment. If you are unhappy about information being disclosed to a treatment/care provider or the school, please notify your NASC service immediately. Information about your child will not be disclosed to any other individual or agency without your consent. In rare cases, such as an emergency, the law requires or authorises disclosure
- NASC services are responsible to their funders to ensure that the supports they allocate are consistent and are shared as equitably as possible so that they are similar across the country for similar needs
This fact sheet has been produced by the Paediatric Society of New Zealand in collaboration with Carers New Zealand. It has been developed with the assistance of the Disability Services Directorate of the Ministry of Health and NASCA (Needs Assessment and Service Coordination Association).
© Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 – 2015
Printed on 30 May 2015. Content is regularly updated so please refer to www.kidshealth.org.nz for the most up-to-date version