Getting NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments done is one thing – but first you’ve got to actually get through to the right person…
Joanne in the north west of England wrote to us to highlight the process she had to go through just to speak to someone on the phone in the NHS about getting an NHS Continuing Healthcare Checklist assessment done for her mother.
It’s not unusual for local NHS telephone switchboard personnel not to have heard of the Continuing Healthcare department, and families can find it very frustrating just trying to get put through to the right person.
A further problem is that NHS personnel within health and social care don’t necessarily know who deals with what – and families end up exasperated just trying to make some kind of progress through the phone system!
“I called Social Services (local authority) to ask them for the name of my mother’s social worker. I also wanted to know who I’d need to contact to request a Checklist assessment.
I needed to ask this because when I’d originally asked Social Services to intervene in my mother’s care, all they sent us were means testing fact sheets and information on paying for care. I had pointed out to them at the time that such an attempt to get my mother to pay for care was both incorrect and illegal.
The person on the phone said she didn’t know much about Continuing Healthcare, but that her notes said if anyone called about it they had to contact the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). However, she could not give me a contact name.
I called the local CCG to ask who to address my Checklist assessment request to. I was told that the CCG was no longer responsible for Continuing Care assessments. Instead, I would need to contact the Clinical Lead for Continuing Care at a regional Commissioning Support Unit.
The person at the CCG also said that Social Services kept getting it wrong and hadn’t updated their information – and that they hadn’t been responsible for Continuing Healthcare since April 2013.
[Note: CCGs were made directly responsible for NHS Continuing Healthcare in April 2013; prior to that it was the local Primary Care Trust.]
I could see that getting NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments done might not be quite as easy as I’d assumed.
I called and spoke to the Clinical Lead at the regional Commissioning Support Unit, who said it wasn’t her responsibility either.
She said I would need to contact the nursing team at the Complex Cases and Continuing Healthcare (CHC) and Funded Nursing Care (FNC) team. She said that the CCG kept on getting it wrong and sending cases incorrectly to her team rather than the CHC and FNC teams.
So… I called the CHC and FNC team and finally got through to an administrator who said I had come through to the right place and they could arrange an initial Continuing Care Checklist assessment for my mother.
I mentioned to her the number of phone calls I’d had to make just to get through to her and she said, “It is a bit of mine field, isn’t it?”
I am amazed that Social Services think that it’s the CCG in my area, and the CCG think it’s the Commissioning Support Unit that organise the assessments. If I had sent an initial letter to the CCG goodness knows how long it would have taken to finally get through to the right people.
I was determined to keep calling and getting information out of people until I got answers, but it shouldn’t have to be that hard. The most worrying thing is that Social Services here have no idea who is actually responsible for Continuing Care.”
As Joanne has highlighted, getting to the right person in the health and social care system is not always easy, and it doesn’t help that people working within the system don’t always know what’s right and what’s not – or even who’s who. It just makes getting NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments done even more frustrating.
The various Commissioning Support Units around the country can be a point of contact in some instances, but not always as the first port of call, so it can certainly be confusing and frustrating for families trying to navigate all this.
Responsibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare lies with Clinical Commissioning Groups, and the local one is generally the first point of contact within the NHS for families. The Clinical Commissioning Group may have contracted out their Continuing Healthcare assessments, but it’s still a good first step.
Social Services, as part of the local authority, can also put the wheels in motion to get a Checklist assessment done – as can a care home, GP or district nurse, assuming they actually know about it.
What problems have you had getting through to the right people in NHS Continuing Healthcare?