Being able to assess needs is very important in social care work and we are continually assessing the needs of individuals/ groups/ communities with which we work. In order to plan or deliver an intervention we must first understand what need we are trying to address, to ensure that the interventions we are delivering are meaningful and relevant to that person's life.
In life in general, we all have unmet needs- this is part of the human experience. When we work in services, we often work with people who have complex unmet needs and we endeavour through intervention to meet some of those needs. When thinking about peoples lives and the different domains of need one might have, you might think about physical needs, emotional needs, relational needs, housing needs, educational needs, employment needs, social needs, needs for autonomy and independence and so forth. Students often learn about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs or Glasser's Choice Theory in college to understand the different aspects of an individuals life and how we can best support well-being.
In services, assessments will different according to the context and the specific remit of the organisation. For example, a worker in a child protection context might be looking at the family dynamic, the capacity of the parents to keep their child safe and meet their child's needs, socially, emotionally, physically. A needs assessment in an addiction service might focus more stabilising drug use, rehabilitation, accessing accommodation, meeting emotional needs and so forth.
Needs assessment is not a one-off activity; this is a process that is dynamic and on-going. Sometimes in the context of the work, new needs emerge or situations change. Life is unpredictable and things don't always go to plan. This is why the worker is assessing needs in an on-going way, is attuned to where the service user is 'at' and responds dynamically to both existent and emerging needs.
If you are interested in learning more about assessment check out some of the resources here:
Learn abit more about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs here: https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
Meitheal Toolkit (in particular p.14 for the 'My World Triangle): as assessment framework for children and families that have not met the threshold for child protection services: https://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Master_Meitheal_Toolkit.pdf
Some practical and useful thinking tools to aid person centered planning: http://helensandersonassociates.co.uk/person-centred-practice/person-centred-thinking-tools/