The Importance of Risk Assessments in Care Planning

Hannah Morris
Care Home Fees Associate Lawyer

Article updated June 2022.


If one of your loved ones is being admitted to care, it is important to think carefully about what their needs are, and whether or not a certain place can provide them with the right support. This type of consideration can make a huge difference to your loved one’s care experience. Here is some information for you to consider when you are planning for the care of a loved one.

Creating a Care Plan

When a loved one is being admitted into care, a care plan should be written. This will focus on their specific areas of need, including basic needs like mobility, nutrition, continence, personal care, and medication administration. They can also cover more complex areas, such as social integration, maintaining relationships and risks to skin integrity.

Not every resident of a care home is the same or needs care in relation to the same presenting needs. It’s therefore vital that a full risk assessment is carried out for each individual resident, so the risks specific to them are identified. With this information, a personalised care plan can be created to minimise the risks and meet the appropriate level of care.

Risk Assessments

Undertaking risk assessments are a legal requirement for care homes. These are regulated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which provides guidance to care homes outlining specific risks to be considered. These include but are not limited to, moving and handling, slips and trips, challenging behaviour, falls and fire.

Health and Safety Executive guidance also recognises the requirement for individual assessments, which explains how some care home residents will be more vulnerable than others. Identifying what risks may be relevant to individual residents and carrying out assessments of those risks means there can be a balance between preventing harm to residents and maintaining their freedom and autonomy.

This is an important process, as failing to adequately assess risk can result in injury or death to residents, further resulting in prosecutions against care homes. It must also be recognised that a person’s needs may change over time, which means that care plans and risk assessments must be regularly evaluated and updated to make sure ongoing care remains appropriate.

Who Enforces Standards in Care Homes?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care services in England. They monitor, inspect, and regulate the quality of care provided to residents by care homes. By law, all care homes must meet a minimum standard of quality and safety to be registered with the Care Quality Commission, and therefore be able to provide care.

One of those standards states that residents must be assessed to make sure they are safe and receiving the appropriate care. The practice of care homes compiling a record of what care has been provided to a resident can ensure that there is continuity of care both within and between care homes.

However, to provide suitable ongoing care, it’s important to have the resident’s needs assessed. This means that plans can be made for how those needs should be met, as well as evaluating how effective that care has been.

The assessment process enables evidence-based care to be provided which will be specific to the resident and effective in meeting their needs. This personalised care planning system also ensures the most appropriate use of limited care resources.

Care home records can cover a large amount of information; medication records, records of professional visits, records of communications with relatives, referrals to other organisations and a daily record/account of the care provided.

Who Funds the Care?

When a relative is admitted to a care home, there are many worries and concerns which will be present, and one of them will undoubtably be about funding of the care. An NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding assessment can let you know if your loved one’s care can be provided on the NHS.

When considering this, the assessors must be able to identify the resident’s overall need and care requirements. Ensuring that care homes undertake full risk assessments and record them accurately can therefore assist in the correct funding decisions being made.

In many funding cases, success can be limited by poor record keeping from care homes or unavailability of those documents at the time of assessment. It’s therefore important to check your relative’s care home is retaining detailed and accurate records of the risks identified, the planned care and daily entries to report the outcome of that care daily.

If you have any more questions, or have any concerns, get in touch with a member of our Care Proceedings Solicitors, to see how we can further assist you.

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