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How does an interRAI assessment work?

In New Zealand, an assessment tool called interRAI helps older people access the services they need and helps sector professionals find out more about the needs of all New Zealanders. You may be referred for an interRAI assessment or you can self-refer via older person’s services. The process begins with a health professional consulting you and your family/ whānau or carers, making observations and referring to other clinical information. The assessment covers areas such as your physical wellbeing, health conditions, activities, mood, medications, and living circumstances.

Using this information, the assessor creates a profile of your needs and opportunities. This profile is available to those who need to be involved in your further care, meaning they all have the same information.

Currently, your local Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora health service manages the referrals in each region. Assessments are completed by registered health professionals, skilled in older people’s health, who are trained interRAI assessors. These professionals are part of a service that may also be known as NASC and are often based at your local hospital, in home and community support agencies, and at residential care homes. Assessments are done in person, usually in the place you live or occasionally over the phone. You can have a support person with you during the assessment.

An interRAI assessment does not determine the range, type, or hours of services to be allocated; however, it informs the resulting Care Plan, which will be worked out with you.

The person coordinating your services will discuss what formal services you may receive and who might provide them. Your support system will include informal support from family/whānau, friends, the community and other agencies. As important decisions may be made at this time, it is helpful to include those closest to you in any discussions.

Your support may include personal care, household/domestic assistance, equipment to make essential daily activities easier for you to complete, and carer support funding. If your needs change, your assessment will need to be updated.

While the goal is to help you live as safely and independently as possible at home, sometimes the assessment shows that residential care is the preferred option. The person who is coordinating your services can authorise entry into a care home.

Several criteria determine what you pay for and what is publicly funded/subsidised. These factors include your assessed need, whether the service is deemed essential, and whether you are able to pay. Whether or not you have a Community Services Card is often a factor too. Just what ‘essential’ means has changed over time, and may vary from region to region - although the new health system aims to standardise this more. Make sure you let your assessor know what an essential service is for you: it may not be funded but it will be noted. If you can afford it, you can pay privately for such services.

Points to note:

  • Those with greater needs are given priority.
  • Your assessment should be done as soon as possible after referral but there may be a waiting list. If you can’t manage or need further help during that time, go back to your local older person’s service, healthcare service or doctor. In an emergency, call 111.
  • If your assessment identifies health conditions that require attention, these should be addressed.
  • Your assessment is not something you need to ‘pass’. Being honest about your situation will help you receive the right support.
  • Funded support services are reviewed as required. If your needs change, you will be reassessed.
  • If you can afford to, you can pay privately for support services.
  • If, after assessment there is a change in your circumstances, including financial, let your older person’s service know. You can ask for a review if you do not agree with the outcome of the assessment or the recommendations.
  • Assessment and service coordination are free to NZ citizens and those residents eligible for publicly funded services.

Find your local Needs Assessor service here.

Updated: 11 Jun 2024
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