By Rosalind Hughes, founder of Just Caring Legal
What’s the cost of an average length of stay in a care home? One report put it at the equivalent of around 26 years’ worth of annual foreign holidays for a family of four. Sounds a lot? If anything, it’s an underestimate. Many people end up paying much more than that if they have complex, unpredictable needs over a long period. In a few short years, life savings and proceeds from assets can drain away to almost nothing. We know first hand the panic, stress and helplessness this can cause. Families watch a lifetime of hard work and careful budgeting slip through their fingers. So what happens if your relative is self-funding their care but the cash is running out?
Should your self-funding relative even be paying for care?
Many of the people who go through this never realise they shouldn’t actually be paying for care. The little-publicised NHS Continuing Healthcare funding system is designed to cover health and social care costs for anyone with a “primary health need”. Read more about how it works here.
The assessment to find out if your relative is eligible for NHS CHC can be a complex process. Many thousands of self-funders have never received the NHS CHC funding to which they were legally entitled because of flaws in that process.
Even during the coronavirus crisis, you can still request an NHS CHC assessment
At the height of the Coronavirus crisis, many NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) put their NHS CHC assessments on hold. They are still not obliged to carry one out under the current emergency provisions. Even so, you shouldn’t delay asking for an NHS CHC assessment if you believe your relative needs one. If your relative is running out of money to fund their care, then they may well need an NHS CHC assessment. If you believe they have a primary health need, it is important to record this in writing to your local CCG now. Request an NHS CHC assessment outright. And explain in as much detail as you can – in writing – why you believe they are eligible.
Have Power of Attorney? Don’t be afraid to use funds to seek advice
You may well have Power of Attorney over your relative’s affairs. If so, you are perfectly entitled to invest some of their remaining funds in obtaining specialist, expert support and advice on this. In my collaborative work with other law firms, I advise Professional Deputies and Attorneys on how to meet their duty of maximising state funding to pay for care. They regularly invest in specialist help to secure funding or challenge ineligibility decisions where there are sufficient grounds.
So don’t for one minute believe this is a battle you have to fight on your own. “In terms of complexity, the mental capacity required and the analysis skills needed, applying for NHS Continuing Healthcare (NHS CHC) funding was as complex as some of the nuclear deterrent policy I worked on.” So said Philip Mathias, a retired rear admiral of the royal navy, in a Daily Telegraph article published last year. And he’s right. Many people describe this process as the fight of their lives.
We help cash-strapped, stressed-out families up and down the land fight for fair care funding for their vulnerable relatives. Our unique mix of specialist legal expertise and personalised, practical advice helps them navigate this incredibly difficult process.
So if the cash is running out fast and you don’t know where to turn, call or email us today and let us see if we can help.