Social care and health care are such important issues. The level of care people receive can determine a good end of life, and how well families cope. Giving up care to professionals can be incredibly daunting. It’s a process that many people have to go through. You or someone you know may be wondering if you will qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding.
Chances are you know someone who needs care. It could be a parent or grandparent with dementia, a neighbour who lives with Parkinson’s, or a friend suffering the effects of stroke.
You will know what good care means. It means more than just ensuring they are fed, washed and safe. It means enabling them to live a life of dignity and meaning. Care is keeping them free from misery, fear and loneliness.
You may also know only too well what happens when care is not forthcoming. Millions of older and disabled people do not get the care they need because of lack of funds. Government investment in care shrank by a third in the five years to 2016.
You may be one of the millions of unpaid carers absorbing the impact, juggling these responsibilities with work. This costs UK businesses more than £3.5bn every year in employee absence.
So you certainly don’t need to be elderly, sick or infirm yourself to feel the effects of social care issues. One in three of us will require care later in life, often for reasons beyond our control. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke and cancer are great levellers. They can strike any one of us at any time.
As anyone familiar with these conditions will know, what constitutes good care can change. In later stages the nature, intensity, complexity or sheer unpredictability of needs will require more expert, responsive care. It takes skill and dedication to recognise and treat severe pain in someone who cannot communicate, for example.
This is when the NHS should step in. It has dedicated funds, called NHS Continuing Healthcare (NHS CHC) to ensure people receive adequate care to meet complex needs arising from illness or disability. This care is free. Just as someone requiring an operation receives treatment – for free. It is the founding principle of our heroic NHS.
Here are some things you may need to know about NHS CHC.
NHS CHC does NOT require a means test.
Unlike local authority care funding it is available to all regardless of income or assets.
NHS CHC must meet ALL care costs.
NHS legislation does not allow for “topping up” by third parties as so often happens with council care fees.
There is detailed guidance on how to assess someone for NHS CHC.
A National Framework is there to guide local Care Commissioning Groups in their assessments as to whether someone is eligible for NHS CHC. Yet, Continuing to Care, a major report published by the Continuing Healthcare Alliance last year, proved many local NHS CHC assessments are deeply inadequate.
Assessors rely heavily on a standardised “Decision Support Tool”.
This separates the person’s care needs into 12 broad “domains”. A multi-disciplinary team of professionals should grade how severe the person’s care needs are for each domain. Using their expert judgement, they should then consider the overall nature, intensity, complexity and unpredictability of those needs.
This tool is not fit for purpose.
Around three quarters of respondents to the Continuing to Care report who had applied for NHS CHC felt this Decision Support Tool did not “enable an accurate impression of the person’s situation”. Meaning these eligibility assessments often got it wrong.
How we can help.
Through my work in Citizen’s Advice and for a large law firm, I have met so many people over the years – including many seasoned business professionals – who just didn’t know where to turn to get the funding their family member deserves.
This is why I set up my own business, challenging NHS CHC eligibility decisions on behalf of vulnerable people. With our specialist experience in pursuing these complex cases, Just Caring Legal provides a strong and persuasive voice for families to ensure they get the funding they are entitled to.
If you need expert advice on how to challenge a decision on NHS CHC, don’t hesitate to contact Just Caring Legal today for a free assessment.