Listening to Money Box Live on BBC Radio 4 recently was tough for those of us concerned about the effect of the current care system on families living with dementia.
We heard the story of Susannah, whose father is in the final stages of the condition. She and her brother had sold the family home. They split the proceeds between their disabled mum’s housing needs and their dad’s care fees. Now they were worried about what would happen when that money ran out. After five years of care, would be soon. The care home charged £4,600 per month and Susannah was worried the local authority would be unwilling to meet the fees. But moving him at this late stage, she said, would be unthinkable.
Moving from self-funding to council support is not straightforward.
It’s a problem many people face when their parents end up needing residential or nursing care. The average stay in a care home of two and a half years can eat up more than half the value of a property in some parts of the country. So people living with high care needs for five years or more are likely to require local authority support in the latter stages.
However, most councils are setting their residential care budgets well below what the care actually costs. Those moving from self-funding to local authority support often find their current home is not on the list of those the council will pay for.
Some councils offer families like Susannah’s a stark choice: pay a top-up fee, or move your relative into a cheaper setting. Yet, in many areas such “affordable” places are rare or even non-existent. The fact is, paying a top-up fee should be entirely voluntary, and just for extras. It should never be a subsidy for covering basic care needs.
The advice for Susannah and her brother from the programme’s experts was clear. They rightly suggested that Susannah should check whether her father was eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare. They suggested the severity of his dementia might indicate a primary health need. If he was eligible for CHC, the NHS should meet the full cost of his care in his current situation.
NHS CHC is for people who need care due to a primary health need, such as a complex illness or disability. If they are eligible they should receive NHS CHC regardless of assets or savings. It is not means-tested at all. The problem is many people are not aware of it. Many more wrongly believe they are not eligible for it.
Easier said than done
However, many in Susannah’s position will know how difficult it is gaining access to NHS Continuing Healthcare funding. Even having the law clearly on your side sometimes isn’t enough. It can take months, sometimes years, of hammering on closed doors to get what your family member is entitled to.
Challenging NHS Continuing Healthcare decisions can be a perplexing, frustrating and distressing business. It requires first-class knowledge of the complexities of the National Framework and the case law, and hands-on experience of dealing with the layers of red tape.
As a solicitor’s firm specialising in NHS Continuing Healthcare cases, Just Caring Legal constructs and delivers strong evidence-based medico-legal arguments to challenge ineligibility decisions and ensure full and robust assessments and reassessments for NHS CHC.
We also negotiate with local authorities and care homes on families’ behalf over care fees and third-party top-ups.
So if you, like Susannah, are worried what will happen when the money runs out – or if it already has – then call us today on 01915 561 078 to see how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome for you and your elderly relative.