What’s the harm in having a means test for care fees?
No. 11 in our series of 27 tips on NHS Continuing Healthcare…
Many people come under pressure to undergo a means test when they first need care.
However, many people don’t realise that agreeing to a means test for care fees can put them at a disadvantage when being assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding.
But why should that be?
NHS Continuing Healthcare funding is NHS money to cover the full cost of care – and it’s available regardless of how much money you have.
So if it doesn’t depend on your money, is there really any harm in having a means test for care fees?
The short answer is yes.
We hear from families who understandably succumb to intense pressure from a local authority to disclose financial details about their relative – even though no one has explained about NHS Continuing Healthcare funding.
We also hear from families who have been asked about their relative’s money during an NHS Continuing Healthcare assessment. Not only is this entirely inappropriate, but the moment it’s known that the person being assessed has some savings or a house, the tone of the assessment seems to change; families report that their relatives are then subsequently found ineligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare.
We hear of cases where this happens even when it’s glaringly obvious that the person should be fully funded by the NHS through NHS Continuing Healthcare.
Not only is this an appalling breach of assessment guidelines (which clearly state that financial matters are not to be discussed), but it is an example of some assessors paying no heed to the law:
- the NHS has a legal duty to cover all care costs when a person’s care needs are primarily health needs; a person’s money is irrelevant
- a local authority’ cannot legally take responsibility for a person’s care (including means testing) if that person’s needs are clearly the responsibility of the NHS.
Equally serious is this:
If trying to find out about person’s money is the primary motive of NHS and local authority staff, it can put the person needing care in danger.
Because the full extent of their care needs may not be properly taken into account – or may be played down – when a subsequent care plan is drawn up.
- If your relative is going through the NHS Continuing Healthcare assessment process and someone pressures you about a means test for care fees, say no.
- If your relative has not yet been assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare and yet they’re paying care fees, insist that an NHS Continuing Healthcare assessment is carried out immediately – and refuse any means testing until the outcome is clear.