What is a Holistic Needs Assessment?

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-697/2023
  • Departments: Neurology and Neurosurgery
  • Last Updated: 24 October 2023


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about a holistic needs assessment.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the team of health professionals looking after you, but may act as a starting point for discussion.  If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for you.

What is a holistic needs assessment?

A holistic needs assessment is a discussion with your doctor, nurse, or other health professional involved in your care to talk about your physical, psychological, spiritual and social needs. The focus is on you as a whole – not just your illness.

Who do I need a holistic needs assessment?

Any patient with a tumour of the brain or central nervous system will be offered a holistic needs assessment. As part of your care, doctors, nurses and other health professionals will need to gather information from you as part of your medical treatment. During a holistic needs assessment, you can decide how much information you would like to share about your current situation. It gives you opportunity for you to talk about any worries or concerns you may have. It will help to clarify your needs and ensure that you are referred to the relevant services.

Many patients find having an assessment helpful as it can help to identify what help is available. However, if you do not want to have an assessment, you do not have to have one.

When will the holistic needs assessment take place?

A holistic needs assessment may be offered at certain times during your care, including:

  • Around the time of diagnosis or start of your treatment.
  • The end of your treatment-when your surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy has been completed.
  • Any time that you ask for one.

It will most likely be carried out by the Clinical Nurse Specialist involved in your care. You can contact your Clinical Nurse Specialist if you have any issues you wish to discuss.

With your agreement the person carrying out your assessment will refer you to other services that may be of help to you. Alternatively if you prefer, you will be given written information about these services.

The Clinical Nurse Specialist can give you a written copy of what was discussed during the assessment if this would be helpful for you.

How do I prepare for the holistic needs assessment?

Share the information in this leaflet with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support. There may be information they need to know, especially if they are taking care of you during any treatment you may need. If you would like a member of the healthcare team to talk to your family or friends, or provide them with written information, they are happy to do so. Please ask.

Being told you have a tumour in the Brain or Central Nervous System (CNS) can be very upsetting for you and those around you. You may have issues that are important to you that you haven’t known who to talk to about. A holistic needs assessment gives you the opportunity to meet with your doctor, nurse or other health professional to discuss any concerns you may have relating to your illness.

These issues might include:

  • Symptoms and physical concerns. You may feel anxious about your illness or about the changes in your body.
  • Feelings and emotions. There is no “normal” reaction to being told you have a brain or CNS tumour; everyone is different. It can be helpful to discuss your reactions, especially if you are feeling very worried or low.
  • Difficulty with relationships. It may be that the relationships you have with friends, your family or your partner have changed. Sexual relationships can also be affected.
  • Money worries. You may want to know more about the financial help available to you.
  • Other concerns. The assessment is there to help you. The person completing the assessment will be happy to talk about whatever issues are important to you.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Neuro-oncology Clinical Nurse Specialists on tel no: (01482) 607831.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and well-being and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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