News and Events

What is a Residential Assessment Unit?

  • Posted

Where concerns have been raised about a parent’s ability to provide safe care for their child, a residential assessment may be considered as opposed to a community-based assessment to assess if they can parent the child safely and appropriately with professional support and guidance.

A residential assessment is considered as an in-depth and independent parenting assessment whereby a sole parent or both parents are assessed and observed by professionals as a family unit. This option may be offered by the Local Authority prior to proceedings being initiated or the Court may consider the need for a residential parenting assessment during the proceedings. If ordered by the Court, the cost of a residential assessment is borne by the Local Authority.

How long will it last and will I be accepted?

Residential assessments commonly last around 12 weeks, however the duration of assessments differ from person to person and it will depend on what services are offered by the unit. Residential units will complete a paper based viability assessment of a person to see if they feel they can provide an assessment and what services they would require in their time at the unit. It may also mean that depending on the situation which has led to Local Authority involvement, a risk assessment of the person may need to be completed to ensure that they would not pose a risk to the child, other residents at the unit and staff.

What will I be assessed on?

The assessment will consider a person’s competence in all tasks involved in the adequate care of a child. This may include the following:

  • Meeting the child’s basic care needs
  • If appropriate guidance and boundaries can be implemented for the child
  • The safety and supervision of the child
  • The parent offering emotional warmth towards of the child
  • The stimulation of the child and meeting any developmental needs

An assessment may also consider more in-depth aspects of a person’s life and will consider their past history such as relationships, family relationships, any substance misuse history and / or domestic violence. The person may be expected to engage in key working sessions in respect of the above or

Where will I live and will I be monitored?

Residential units vary in the respect that the accommodation may include self-contained flats or could be individual rooms with a communal kitchen, bathroom and living areas. A person may be monitored through CCTV either on a constant basis or intermittently; this may also include audio. At that outset of the assessment, the parents may be required to ask for staff assistance to supervise them to complete basic care tasks. If there are no concerns in these areas as the assessment progresses then supervision and monitoring may be reduced over time. The staff at the unit may intervene in a person’s care for their child if they feel that the child is at risk of harm.

Will I be told how I am doing?

The key worker who is attached to the family will provide regular updates to the parent(s) regarding how their assessment is going. They will also raise any concerns surrounding the care they are offering the child as and when it arises. Half way through the assessment a mid-way report may be drawn up to inform the parents of how they are progressing whilst at the unit; this will accompanied by the final report which is written at the end of the assessment. The report will be used to inform the Local Authority of progress when deciding on a future care plan for the child which could be for removal of the child into foster care, return of the family to the home in the community or for the child to be placed with a positively assessed kinship carer such as a family member.


Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there may be certain restrictions on a family’s time in the residential unit and these may include not being able to socialise in local common areas or enter other resident’s flats. If a member of staff or another resident contracts Covid-19 then the family may have to isolate in line with the policies of the residential unit but also in line with government guidance at that time.

How Johnson Astills can help

We understand that the Local Authority being involved with your children can be very stressful and that is why we are here to help and provide advice. We have experience in assisting parents at all stages of Local Authority involvement. Please contact  Johnson Astills at either our Leicester Office on 0116 255 4855 or our Loughborough Office on 01509 610 312 and ask for a member of the Care Team so that we can advise you accordingly. Alternatively, please email us on  and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.