Misleading advice about NHS Continuing Healthcare is everywhere
Today’s article is from Angela Sherman, founder of Care To Be Different. She highlights the frustrating problem of families being given incorrect information via the press and through the media – and also by some legal, financial and charity professionals.
There is a BIG problem in England when it comes to care fees. I don’t just mean the appalling maladministration that goes on in NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments and appeals, although that’s bad enough.
What I’m referring to is the way some organisations, individuals and/or professionals (despite their good intent) often give families the worst possible advice when talking about care fees.
There is now much more awareness now about NHS care funding than when Care To Be Different started in 2010; however, misleading information about NHS Continuing Healthcare is still a big problem.
So this is a plea to anyone who advises clients, patients, families, associates and/or friends about care fees – and/or provides information to them. For example:
- You may be a solicitor, a financial adviser or a care fees consultant of some kind.
- You could be part of a charity that deals with matters of care and/or older age.
- You may be a practitioner, nurse, medic or social care worker.
- Or you could run a media channel (press, TV, radio, internet, etc. – mainstream or otherwise) and publish/broadcast articles, discussions and phone-ins on the subject of care fees.
Please check what you think you already know about care fees – because it could be wrong! You could unwittingly be giving people misleading information about NHS Continuing Healthcare.
Not all advisers (even legal and financial) understand NHS Continuing Healthcare
A while ago I had a meeting with a financial adviser who advises clients about later life, retirement planning and care fees.
He knew that NHS Continuing Healthcare funding was available, but he was also under the impression that it didn’t apply to people who had the means to pay for their own care.
Needless to say, I put him right on that.
NHS Continuing Healthcare has nothing to do with a person’s money. Instead, it is NHS money that covers the cost of care for people who meet certain criteria regarding their health needs.
I also felt shocked that he may have inadvertently been misleading his clients all this time. I explained that NHS Continuing Healthcare is not means tested – at all; it’s about a person’s health, not their money.
I explained that all of his clients should be considered for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding at the point where they need care – regardless.
The conversation went on, and then the meeting drew to a close. At the end, the adviser wanted to clarify what he’d understood and he highlighted the case of one specific client. The client had multiple health issues and needed round-the-clock care.
The adviser acknowledged that the client should be assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare, but then added that “of course they won’t get it because they have savings”.
At this point I sat on my hands to stop myself tearing my hair out!
And then I explained it all again.
This false understanding of how care fees work is so engrained in our psyche. It seems to be part of our national conditioning to think that, somehow, when we get older, the rules change and we always have to pay. They don’t!
I should add here that a good adviser (whether it’s legal, financial, care fees or other) can be invaluable. Equally, it’s vital to check they fully understand how NHS funding works.
Your GP and your local hospital do not charge you
With GP appointments, we’re not asked at the door to produce a bank statement or to confirm whether or not we own a house.
When we go to hospital, we’re not asked to undergo a means test before treatment will be provided.
So why should an older person who needs a lot of care be told that access to NHS care depends on their money? There is nothing in law that supports that.
And yet so often I read on various websites and articles, and I hear on phone-ins and discussions, the following typical statements:
“If a person has savings, or a house they are not eligible for local authority funding.”
“Care must be paid for by the individual if they have the means.”
“If you need care, the local authority will do a financial assessment.”
ALL these statements are misleading.
So, please, if you have ANYTHING like this on your own website or in any information you give to others, please remove it right now.
It is exactly this kind of false information that has led to the tens of thousands of claims against the NHS for care fees wrongly charged. The devastating impact on families is immeasurable. What’s more, you may find yourself liable for having provided misleading/incorrect advice.
As we say many times on our website: whether or not a person pays for care does NOT depend on their money. It depends on their care needs ONLY.
The devastating impact of false information about care fees
I know only too well the horror that receiving incorrect advice can lead to.
When my own parents needed care, I consulted not only a solicitor and financial adviser, but also a social worker, a neurologist and two well-known national charities.
They ALL told me my parents would have to pay for all of their care because they had some savings and a house.
ALL of these people were wrong – and their incorrect advice led to four years of hell for me, fighting the NHS to get the money back, because my parents should have been properly assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare right at the start. No one should have asked anything about their money.
So please don’t lead your own clients, patients or friends into this same situation.
Get properly informed, and please amend anything on your website, any articles you publish or anything you broadcast so that it is correct. Otherwise you could unwittingly be contributing to the whole sorry Continuing Healthcare situation.
5 vital things to keep in mind at all times:
1) The local authority will do an assessment of social care needs (needs, not money) when a person needs care, but they must NOT do a assessment of their money until the person has been properly considered for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding. The local authority has no business asking about a person’s money or house at this point, and if they do so, the local authority could find itself in an illegal position.
2) When a person is in hospital, they must be assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding BEFORE anyone asks about their money and before they are discharged. Sadly this often does not happen. The hospital discharge team has no business asking about a person’s money or house at this point.
3) The person being discharged from hospital should not pay a penny for any ongoing care until the NHS Continuing Healthcare assessment process is complete and an NHS funding decision has been made – in writing.
3) Whether or not a person owns a house is nobody else’s business until the NHS Continuing Healthcare assessment process is properly completed. It doesn’t matter whether a person goes into a residential home, a nursing home or has care in their own home, all the above applies to all cases.
5) A person does NOT have to be at death’s door to receive NHS Continuing Healthcare funding; it is for any stage of life. The person does not have to be at end of life, not do they have to have certain specific care needs or need certain specific treatments. There are criteria to be met, but it is not dependent on a specific diagnosis or specific care needs.
Please double check the information you’re giving to people
So if you provide information about care fees in any format, please check that it does not mislead people into thinking they always have to pay if they have the means. They don’t!
If you’re an individual/family…
- If you have a relative needing care, makes sure the information you’re given is correct. The tips and information on our website, on our Facebook page and in our book, How To Get The NHS To Pay For Care, will help you.
- If you know other families who may fall into the same trap as I did, by being given misleading information about NHS Continuing Healthcare, please help them understand what’s right and what’s not.
- If you’re listening to a phone-in and people are being misled into thinking they will always be mean tested, call in and correct them.
- If you’re reading an article and it fails to mention NHS Continuing Healthcare – or it does mention it but implies it’s impossible to get or it’s only for people without means – add a comment underneath or call the editor to correct things.
Together we can continue to help families fight for the funding their relatives are legally entitled to.
If you’re new to Care To Be Different, our Get Started page will help you.