NHS funding is available to cover 100% of care fees for elderly people with predominantly health needs. This is called NHS Continuing Healthcare. (It’s also called ‘Continuing Care’ or ‘fully-funded nursing care’.) There is an assessment process to go through.
However, many people are not told about this funding, and many families who ask about it on behalf of an elderly relative are simply told they won’t get it – and that there’s no point in doing an assessment.
This is not only completely wrong (because everyone with health needs going into care should be assessed for Continuing Care), but it also puts families off pursuing things further. It means elderly people often wrongly lose their homes and everything they own to pay for care that should be paid for by the NHS.
It is one of the biggest scandals in elderly care in the UK.
At Care To Be Different we hear from many families who’ve been given incorrect information about Continuing Care by the health and social care authorities. That’s why we’re sharing with you the 7 most outrageous reasons we’ve heard to date for elderly people not being assessed. We’ve also included some useful tips about what to say in response…
1. “You won’t get funding because not many people do.”
No one can possibly make a decision about funding until an assessment has been done! If your relative needs to go into a care home, or needs full-time care at home, they should be assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare ideally at the start, but certainly within three months of starting to receive care. If your relative is in hospital, they should be assessed BEFORE they’re discharged.
2. “We’re not doing an assessment because you won’t qualify.”
Again, no assessor (or care home nurse) can make a judgment about this without doing an assessment. The first assessment is a screening assessment called the Checklist.This determines whether your relative will receive a second full assessment using the Decision Support Tool. Make sure you’re present at every assessment.
3. “To get Continuing Care you have to be about to die.”
The eligibility criteria for Continuing Care look at your ongoing health needs, not how long you have left to live. There’s no limit to the length of time you can receive Continuing Care, and it has nothing to do with how close you are to the end of your life.
4.“There’s no Continuing Care contact here.”
There may not be a Continuing Care contact where your relative is based, but that’s irrelevant. The NHS must arrange for someone to be available to do the assessment.
5. “The care you need is too expensive.”
If your relative’s care needs are primarily health needs, it doesn’t matter what their full-time care costs; the NHS has a legal duty to pay for it, including the costs of accommodation in a care home.
6. “We’re too busy to assess you.”
It doesn’t matter how busy the local NHS Continuing Care Department is – or how busy any other assessor is – your relative should be properly assessed. As your relative’s representative, you also have the right to appeal any decisions you don’t agree with.
And the most outrageous reason we’ve heard so far:
7. “Continuing Care is only for people who can’t swallow.”
A family called us to say that their relative was desperately ill and had significant healthcare needs, but had been told none of that mattered because the elderly person could still swallow. The Continuing Care assessment looks at a range of health needs, from mobility to symptom control, and from cognition to breathing, including those needs arising from dementia. It is not, and never has been, solely about the ability to swallow.