More than 50,000 people have died while waiting for a care package since spring 2017, according to Age UK. In the same period, over half a million people (626,701) have been refused social care by their council. More than 7,000 have had to go through the terrible experience of spending their entire life savings on care bills, leaving nothing to pass on after their death.
What makes these statistics even worse is that many of those people will have been unaware that they didn’t have to apply for means-tested local authority care at all. They may well have been eligible to have all of their care needs funded by the NHS in the form of Continuing Healthcare funding (NHS CHC).
The NHS’s best kept secret
NHS CHC is sometimes called the NHS’s best kept secret. Available for both health and social care, it is allocated by NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). It can fund residential care, a nursing facility or care at home.
Eligibility for NHS CHC is determined by whether a person’s care needs arise from a “primary health need”. This may be due to a disability, a disease such as Alzheimer’s or Multiple Sclerosis, or the after-effects of a stroke. But it is not dependent on a particular diagnosis. It is for the health and social care professionals involved in the person’s care to decide if they fit the criteria for funding based on all the evidence.
You may have to push for an NHS CHC assessment
Unfortunately, many of our clients have told us that at the crucial moments when decisions are being taken about how care needs are going to be met, the professionals around them often fail to mention even the existence of NHS CHC funding, never mind whether they may be eligible for it. It is often only those with well-informed relatives who are ever put forward for assessment. And as recent testimony shows, the assessment process is often flawed, driven more by the CCG’s financial considerations than the individual’s care needs.
So if you have a relative who needs day to day care, push for an NHS CHC assessment before going down the means-tested local authority route. This is especially the case if the person has been incapacitated due to illness, the worsening of a pre-existing condition, or after a stay in hospital. Don’t be fobbed off with assurances that your relative “won’t qualify” for NHS CHC – there are clear steps that must be followed to establish that, and relatives have the right to be party to those.
Many people find they need expert help
Many people who do get as far as a full assessment find they need expert help in navigating this often complex process. If this is the case for you, call Just Caring Legal today on 0191 556 1078 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for an initial discussion of your case. As specialists in NHS CHC, we can cut through the jargon and complexity, challenge CCG decisions directly and explain everything to you in a way you can understand. That way you will have more precious time to spend with your family member for whatever time they have left.