NHS Continuing Healthcare is an issue that affects us all.
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. If so, 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 – a life worth living. It means keeping them free from misery, fear and loneliness.
And you may also know only too well what happens when that care is not forthcoming. The reality is more than 1 million older and disabled people do not get the care they need because of lack of funds. Government investment in care decreased by a third in the five years leading up to to 2016. You may be one of the millions absorbing the impact, juggling work and caring – with all the stress that entails.
It costs UK businesses more than £3.5bn every year in absence. It is often easier to tell your employer you are sick yourself than admit you need to stay off to care for a bedbound parent. So no, you certainly don’t need to be elderly, sick or infirm yourself to feel the effects of health and social care issues.
Although 1 in 3 of us WILL require care later in life, often for reasons entirely beyond our control. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's, MS, stroke and cancer are great levellers – they can strike anyone of us at any time.
As anyone living through these diseases/conditions with family members will know, what constitutes good care can change. In later stages, the nature, intensity, complexity or sheer unpredictability of their 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) funding 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 or a course of antibiotics receives treatment – for free. It is the founding principle of our heroic NHS. So here are some things you may need to know about NHS CHC.
NHS CHC does NOT require a financial means test
Unlike local authority care funding, it is available where the individual exhibits a 'primary health need' regardless of income or assets.
NHS CHC should meet ALL care costs
NHS legislation does not allow for “topping up” by third parties as can sometimes happen with council care fees. Care can be provided in your own home or in a residential care home setting.
There is national detailed guidance on how to assess someone for NHS CHC
A National Framework helps local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) assess whether someone is eligible for NHS CHC in a standardised way. Yet Continuing to Care, a major report published last year, proved many NHS CHC assessments are deeply flawed. It is often vital to seek specialist advice s a result.
CCG 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 needs. The overall assessment should be 'robust' and should look at the 'totality' of an individual's needs in order to gain a detailed picture.
This tool is said to be not fit for purpose.
Around three quarters of respondents to Continuing to Care 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 get it wrong.
How can Just Caring Legal help?
Through my work in Citizens Advice and for a large Newcastle law firm, I have met so many people over the years – including many seasoned business professionals - who just don’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 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 deserve.
Just Caring Legal has successfully secured thousands of pounds of much needed care for many deserving individuals that they may not have received without help navigating through the process.
If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact Just Caring Legal for a free assessment.