Trusted Assessors, where are we now?

Since its introduction in 2005, the role of Trusted Assessor has become a valuable resource for thousands of vulnerable individuals in the UK. But equally over the past two decades, the role of a Trusted Assessor has evolved significantly. To maximize the potential of trusted assessing, it is important to understand how this innovative role has evolved to ensure that we all continuously improve in our efforts to provide the quality of services our clients deserve.

Recently, TACT had the privilege of attending the Foundations DFG Assessment Summit, held in June 2023 in Birmingham where we led an interactive workshop focussing on the role of Trusted Assessor. There were a number of lively discussions around the challenges of establishing a successful Trusted Assessor process. While all participants generally acknowledged the positive impact of Trusted Assessors, they also shared a range of similar observations based on their local experiences.

During the workshop discussions, the potential risks associated with the Trusted Assessor approach were brought to the forefront. While concerns were raised about the real risk of inappropriate prescriptions leading to fatalities, it is crucial to note that such incidents have thankfully to date not occurred. However, it appears more likely that overprescribing or under-prescribing may be more common, in these instances there would be a need for a full re-assessment and potential rectification or removal of costly adaptations. Such cases can also potentially result in complaints or legal cases that also tarnish the reputation of the service. Delegates to the event observed however that these risks are not unique to Trusted Assessors but rather apply to all professions and roles involved in person-centred needs assessments where ineffective supervision and training are factors at play.

To address these challenges, the workshop drew the following conclusions:

  • There needs to be greater engagement with the national competency framework. Too many practitioners are not aware of it or taking account of it in their programme development. The framework is quite old now and would benefit from updating. Once refreshed and re-launched can act as a passport to not only identify the skills and competencies required but also allow the transfer of skills between organisations with a clear understanding and expectation level. Do get in touch with us if you would like to be involved in its review.
  • Awareness that there are national qualifications for Trusted Assessors is too low. Many want to see national standards around the deployment of Trusted Assessors and are unaware that there are published qualifications that they can access for use internally or via accredited providers such as TACT. The national qualifications that were first published in 2020 can be viewed on OCN London’s website, Level 3 and Level 4 respectively.
  • Key to the successful deployment of Trusted Assessors are the referral pathways immediately surrounding the role. Clear boundaries need to be in place and triage policy and procedures in force to ensure that Trusted Assessors operate strictly within their skill and experience levels. Training must focus and train on the situations in which cases need to be referred on, usually to an Occupational Therapist.
  • Support for Trusted Assessors needs to be ongoing in the workplace. Too often we hear about situations in which training has been provided but there has been insufficient thought given to ongoing support especially during the first few cases handled by the Assessor. Key to success is the use of mentors and continuous learning programmes post-qualification.

A decade ago, there was a common reluctance within the industry to empower Trusted Assessors to conduct assessments for major adaptations. However, the recent Foundations summit demonstrated that as an industry, we have progressed, embracing the need for alternative approaches to improve access. With further development and increased awareness of the Trusted Assessor methodology, we are confident that the outcomes for those we support to live independently will continue to improve.

TACT, a leading organization on all things Trusted Assessor, is headed by Clare Barber an Occupational Therapist who spearheaded the development of national qualifications for Trusted Assessors, available today. We are committed and passionate about supporting the ongoing development of the concept UK-wide.

For more information, or to have a chat about implementing or developing a Trusted Assessor programme within your organization, please reach out to us through the form below: