About health and well-being needs assessment

Tools for doing the work

A range of tools are needed to collect the best possible information about what you are interested in exploring. This is likely to include national demographic and epidemiological data about prevalence of need, data about your locality, qualitative data to complement the statistical information, and data on evidence about promising or effective interventions.

Examples of some tools that have been helpful for health and well-being needs assessment (HWBNA) work in relation to the youth justice system are available in the Auditing need and Consultation sections of this toolkit.

Desk-based research of what is already available

Consider scrutinising:

Documents – national and local policy statements, national and local research studies, and previous needs assessments conducted locally and in other areas, and that cover services and interventions provided in community and secure settings.

Service use data – about children and young people in secure settings and the community, analysed on variables such as age, ethnicity, reason for referral to a service, the nature and duration of interventions provided, and outcomes in terms of measured change in health and well-being.

Data from population surveys – this might be local data, extracted from consultation exercises in schools and other community settings, and from monitoring exercises in secure establishments. Or it might be national data that includes broad messages relevant for your work, as in the Survey of the experiences of young people held in prison settings (HM Inspectorate of Prisons/Youth Justice Board, 2011).

Data about individual young people – from service records; from assessment forms, such as CAF (Common Assessment Framework), Asset and Onset; and from other assessment forms developed locally, in community and secure settings.



Consider using individual interviews by phone or in person, group discussion, or both. The particular methods you choose will be those that are most appropriate for consulting with the different people you want to try and involve. For staff views, include people from different strands of the service and at different levels of seniority. For young people and families, aim for a broad range of age, ethnicity, needs and involvement in different youth justice interventions. Include:

  • Front-line staff and volunteers in the youth offending service in the community and in secure settings
  • Front-line staff in other local services, including statutory and voluntary agencies, and community and faith-based organisations
  • Service managers and commissioners
  • Children and young people
  • Parents, carers and other significant adults.


Case studies

Describing and commenting on the experiences of different young people can help bring to life the impact of their needs and circumstances and prompt thought about appropriate ways of responding. Case studies could cover the different stages of a young person’s journey through the youth justice system, or their contact with different services, or the impact of their different needs. The case studies can be about real young people, suitably protected from being identified. Or they can be hypothetical, developed to prompt discussion about themes of interest or issues that commonly arise, as in the Guidance about information sharing in the youth justice system (Department of Health, Ministry of Justice, Department for Children Schools and Families, Youth Justice Board, 2009).


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