I-CAN Support Needs Assessment

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About the I-CAN

The I-CAN stands for The Instrument for the Classification and Assessment of Support Needs.

It is a holistic support needs assessment tool designed for people with a disability aged 16 years and above. The tool can only be used by trained and certified I-CAN assessors.

The I-CAN was developed by the Centre for Disability Studies (CDS), based on extensive research into the need for an innovating, rigorous and robust system of identifying and classifying support needs. This research was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant. The first version of the I-CAN was launched in 2002. Prior to this, the tool was known as the Support Classification and Assessment of Needs (SCAN). The I-CAN has been reviewed and updated regularly, with Version 6 launched in 2021.

Conceptual Framework

The I-CAN is conceptually based on the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), and maps a person’s support needs to 12 domains.

The ICF’s Activity and Participation domains are supplemented by three domains based on health and wellbeing, resulting in a total of 12 domains:

  1. Mobility
  2. Domestic Life
  3. Self Care
  4. Community, Social & Civic Life
  5. Communication
  6. Learning & Applying Knowledge
  7. General Tasks and Demands
  8. Life Long Learning
  9. Interpersonal Interactions & Relationships
  10. Behaviours of Concern
  11. Mental & Emotional Health
  12. Physical Health

Each domain is then broken into four sub-domains, for example Mobility includes:

  • Transfers & Positioning
  • Carrying, Moving & Handling Objects
  • Walking & Moving
  • Transport

The only domain that is not broken into four sub-domains is Physical Health, which has 10 sub-domains in order to ensure that complex health needs can be accurately captured.

Using the I-CAN - Describing and Recording Support Needs

The I-CAN is designed to be used flexibly, capturing the most relevant support needs for the purpose of the assessment and for an individual’s circumstances. Information is only entered into the relevant domains.

Information is entered using person centred, strengths-based language, in “I-CAN statements.” The I-CAN statement is a critical component of this type of assessment, describing what the person can do, and with what support.

I-CAN statements are then “scored” in terms of the frequency of support and the type of support provided in each domain.

Use of the Tool

In Australia, the I-CAN is predominantly used by practitioners under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), for example when supporting a participant to access the scheme for the first time, undergoing plan reviews or when a participant’s circumstances are changing.

The I-CAN is also used to for non-NDIS participants, including those with acquired and psycho-social disabilities.

Why Use the I-CAN?

The I-CAN is:

  • Strengths-based and person-centred
  • Semi-structured – so can be used flexibly and what is appropriate to the person you are assessing
  • Based on the WHO ICF
  • Aligns with our commitment to uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD)
  • Appropriate for use across all disability types including physical, intellectual and psycho-social disabilities
  • Validated for use for people with disabilities 16 years and older, however some assessors are using it with younger people
  • Developed and researched in Australia
  • The assessment is completed via an online tool so can be accessed anywhere with internet access.  No need for paper manuals or forms.


I-CAN Assessments

Who can become an I-CAN Facilitator?

The I-CAN training is available to following people:

-Allied health clinicians with a tertiary qualification, such as:

  • Occupational Therapist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Social Worker
  • Dietitian
  • Psychologist
  • Exercise Physiologist
  • Rehabilitation Counsellor
  • Counsellor
  • Psychotherapist

-Registered nurses (RN)

-Enrolled nurses (EN)

-Clinicians with an Education degree

If you do not meet the above eligibility criteria, and you feel that you have the relevant skills and experience to become a certified I-CAN assessor, please email the I-CAN team via ican@cds.org.au.  In the email, please outline your relevant skills, experience and qualifications in the disability sector including your experience in completing assessments and report writing.  The I-CAN team will review submissions on a case by case basis.

Training Update

CDS are in the process of updating our I-CAN training from a one day online workshop to self-paced online learning. We anticipate this will be operational by the beginning of 2024, with a soft launch late November/ early December 2023.

If you would like to express your interest for the new online training once it is up and running, please email the I-CAN team – ican@cds.org.au.

We can also offer private workshops for organisations, both in Australia and internationally. Please contact us to discussion your organisation’s needs.


Following the completion of the online training, training participants must complete a certification process before they can use the I-CAN tool in their practice.

This involves conducting an I-CAN assessment with a person that is submitted to CDS, with consent for review and feedback. Once finalised, the participant will be formally certified and have full access to the I-CAN tool. This process will be discussed in more depth during the online learning.

Certification to use the tool will be valid for 12 months from the date of training upon completion of a Licence Agreement.




We have streamlined our re-certification process, so you no longer need to submit an I-CAN report for review by the team.

In order to renew your certification, you need to:

  1. Watch a short 20-minute refresher webinar
  2. Complete a Re-Certification Quiz and return to the I-CAN team
  3. Pay the annual fee of $175. You can pay this fee by credit card via a link provided or you can request an invoice


Once these items have been completed, we will provide you with an updated license agreement and continued access to the I-CAN v6 tool for another 12 months.


I-CAN DSOA Project

CDS has been contracted by the Commonwealth Department of Health to provide support needs assessments for the Disability Supports for Older Australians (DSOA) cohort, using a customised version of the I-CAN tool.

The customised tool provides a breakdown of support required based on the client’s support needs, which is used to guide service provision under the DSOA Program. The tool can also be used to assess a client’s change of needs.

The Commonwealth Department of Health manage the referral process for these assessments. CDS is unable to accept direct assessment requests that have not followed the correct pathway.

Once CDS receives a referral, the assessment is completed by one of our pool of contracted Assessors, made up of predominantly allied health professionals. Assessors receive training in the use of the customised assessment tool and ongoing clinical and administrative support through CDS.

Want to Get in Touch?

Contact Us

You can contact us via email at: ican@cds.org.au

For general inquiries, email cds@cds.org.au.