Needs Assessment in Practice

Needs Assessment

What we know

Needs assessment forms an important part of palliative care in all settings and can improve their quality of life of older adults with a life-limiting illness. Needs assessments can help to identify what clients or residents and their families consider important and where they need help and support. Recognition of the individual needs of palliative care patients and their family members forms the basis of individualised care.

What can I do?

For a person in your care approaching the terminal phase of a condition, you can use needs assessment to help them and their family explore their needs, concerns or fears including religious, spiritual, and/or cultural needs and rituals. See the palliAGED InFocus: Assessing and planning the palliative care needs of older persons for an introduction on how this fits with Aged Care Standard 2.

You can use these tools to assess the needs of the older person and their carers or family members:

Recognise the crucial role that a carer of a person with dementia plays across all stages of the progression and assess their needs at each stage to prevent or reduce their burden.

You can pass on to clients, residents and their families the booklet: Supporting a person who needs palliative care - A guide for families and friends (3rd edition 2017) (319kb pdf)

What can I learn?

Learn about Conducting a comprehensive geriatric assessment

Watch the video from NSW Blueprint and read their information care based on needs.

Watch the videos form the ELDAC website:

Check out these websites:


What can my organisation do?

To enhance the care of clients and resident, consider including needs assessment particularly

  • as part of admission or the initial consultation
  • at times of significant change such as a
    • significant decline or deterioration
    • change in family/social support
    • change in functional status
  • after a hospital admission
  • at the beginning of the terminal phase
  • to provide, where relevant, grief and bereavement support to clients and residents and their families.

There are a number of educational projects that could help with upskilling staff to recognise and assess needs. These include: Advance, ELDAC, Caring@home, PHN Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care, and PEPA.

Page updated 27 May 2022