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Can the shift from needs-led to outcomes-focused assessment in health and social care deliver on policy priorities?

Miller, Emma (2010) Can the shift from needs-led to outcomes-focused assessment in health and social care deliver on policy priorities? Research, Policy and Planning, 28 (2). pp. 115-127. ISSN 0264-519X

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Abstract

Assessment, planning and review are at the heart of the provision of services and support in health and social care in the community, providing key means through which professionals interact with people using their services. These interactions provide opportunities for relationship building, with evidence that involving the person in identifying their priorities and required support can itself improve outcomes. At the same time, professionals use assessment to assess eligibility for support, and assessment has also increasingly become a mechanism for data gathering, to inform a range of requirements at local and national level including planning, commissioning, inspection and performance management. Despite attempts to move assessment from being service-led to person-centred, meeting such a broad range of objectives and requirements can create tensions at the front line, influencing both how interactions are conducted, and the resulting decisions. More recently, there has been an increasing emphasis on outcomes for individuals using health and social care services, including a shift from needs-led to outcomes-focused assessment. This paper considers a recent literature review about shared health and social care assessment, including emerging evidence from the implementation of outcomes-focused assessment in the UK. It concludes that there are promising signs that the recent shift to outcomes-focused assessment might resolve longstanding tensions around assessment, delivering on person-centred objectives and resulting in more efficient and effective use of resources.