Daily Mail’s Dementia Campaign: “Time To End The Dementia Care Bills Betrayal” – A missed opportunity to promote CHC?
The Daily Mail ran a front page cover on Wednesday 17th July 2019 seeking to raise awareness for their new campaign, championing dementia sufferers who have been neglected by the Local Authority (Social Services) system and had to sell their homes to pay for the crippling cost of their care needs. The Daily Mail calls on Ministers and the new MP to stop this scandalous injustice affecting millions.
The Daily Mail reports that they have been inundated with letters from readers who have spent £15 billion over the last two years supporting relatives with dementia, many of whom have been forced to sell their homes to pay for care.
Daily Mail ‘Comment’:
“The social care system is no longer fit for purpose.”
“Forced to sell their home or raid savings they have toiled all their lives….Unjustly wiping out nest eggs intended for their loved-ones..”
“To add insult to injury, pensioners who are thrifty and careful, putting money aside for a rainy day, are punished with gargantuan fees, while the feckless without savings get everything free. This is nothing short of a monstrous tax on the ill”.
The Dementia campaign calls upon the new Prime Minister to look at other funding options and the creation of an ‘NHS Dementia Fund’ to help families pay the extra costs of looking after dementia sufferers, arguing that “no one should be forced to sell their home to pay for their dementia care costs.”
The Daily Mail features a double page spread (“DEMENTIA CARE: YOUR FURY”) full of heart rending testimonies from relatives of dementia sufferers, explaining how their spouse or parents have worked all their lives but who have had to sell their home or “chew” up all their hard earned savings to pay for care – calling it a national disgrace – whilst others with different diseases, such as cancer, get care support free on the NHS. The Daily Mail calls it “a cruel injustice that must now end.”
The Daily Mail attributes 8 full pages to their campaign to raise awareness and increase social care funding for dementia sufferers. They say that “Around 180,000 dementia patients live in care homes in England and 74,000 of them all pay fees themselves. Many of the remaining 106,000, only get part of their costs paid.”
All 8 pages focus purely on funding dementia from a SOCIAL needs perspective. Whilst the social care funding may indeed be broken and in urgent need of major reform, at no stage is NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding (CHC) discussed! This is a fundamental omission and a huge missed opportunity to educate the public and raise awareness about CHC!
We believe that the Daily Mail should have told its readers, that these families and many thousands of others around the country, may not have had to sell their home or use lifetime savings to pay for their relative’s care in the first place, if they have a ‘primary healthcare need’ – in which case the NHS should pay for ALL their healthcare and accommodation needs.
Read our blog to find out more about primary healthcare needs:‘Primary health need’ made simple – what does it really mean?
Care To Be Different know that individuals just aren’t being signposted to this FREE package of fully-funded NHS care, and so are missing out on many thousands of pounds a month in funded care, and are self-funding instead. That is the real national scandal! The Daily Mail needs to say much more about NHS Continuing Healthcare funding!
So, it’s not just dementia sufferers who are losing out and having their life’s savings wiped out to pay for care. The scandal goes much deeper than that.
By only focusing on the inadequacy of social care funding to pay for dementia care, the Daily Mail campaign has missed the whole argument, and a great opportunity to raise awareness of NHS Continuing Healthcare funding amongst its readers (and to help them get a retrospective refund for care home fees wrongly paid).
NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding is free at the point of use. Wealth is never a consideration. Therefore, people who have worked all their lives, paid their taxes and put saving aside for a ‘rainy day’ may be entitled to FREE care from the NHS, if they have a health need, regardless of their wealth. It is a matter of health.
However, social care is funded by the Local Authority (Social Services), is means-tested, and is therefore a matter of wealth. It should ONLY be considered once an individual, who has a ‘primary health need’, has first been assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding (or ‘CHC’ for short). In simple terms, Primary health needs can be thought of as needs over and above what the Local Authority are legally obliged to provide.
So, some dementia sufferers may have a low level of care needs, and just require additional social care support with some of their daily tasks eg assistance with mobility (hence Local Authority funding); but others, for example, may have more advanced cognitive impairment combined with other complex medical needs that require 24 hour monitoring and intensive nursing care (and hence may be eligible for CHC Funding).
“The grossly unfair system means that someone diagnosed with a medical condition, for instance cancer, has their bills met by the NHS, whilst someone with dementia – which requires social care – faces financial ruin”.
Baroness Ros Altmann, a former Pensions Minister adds, “A millionaire who contracts cancer can expect the best treatment available on the NHS, without having to fund it personally. All the costs are met by the tax system, with care free at the point of need.”
Why should there be any differentiation between these medical conditions, or indeed any other life changing illnesses and diseases? The Daily Mail’s seemingly unhelpful comments, and those of Baroness Altmann, ignore the crucial point that ALL individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding – including dementia and cancer sufferers – are entitled to this FREE package of funded care if they have a primary health need.
Therefore, before finances are ever discussed as to how an individual will fund their (dementia) care, they should first undergo an NHS Continuing Healthcare assessment to determine whether they have a primary healthcare need. If successful, NHS Continuing Healthcare is a FREE package of care that is provided by the NHS to pay for an individual’s care needs and accommodation – ALL of it – and it is not means-tested. If not successful, only then should they be considered for Local Authority funding which is means-tested. If they have capital or assets in excess of £23,350, then they will have to self-fund and pay for their care from private means – which, as we know, may unfortunately involve selling their home to pay for care.
For further reading, look at our blogs:
We applaud the Daily Mail’s initiative in taking up their campaign to support dementia sufferers. Unfortunately, this was undoubtedly a missed opportunity to educate its readers about CHC as well – which should be the first port of call before any discussion over funding care takes place!
Linking Dementia and cancer sufferers, and putting them into different funding categories – one free and one paid for – is sensationalist reporting, and frankly wrong. For our readers who have had to endure lengthy battles fighting the NHS over many years to secure CHC Funding for a spouse, child or other relative, these type of misleading comments show a lack of knowledge and understanding of the NHS care funding system in this country.
Paying for care is not about the ‘label’ or diagnosis given to a particular medical condition, but should be based on the totality of the individual’s overall healthcare needs. That is the critical factor as to whether or not an individual is entitled to free CHC care paid for the NHS, or has to go down the Local Authority route for means-tested care, or even self-fund.
It is therefore hugely disappointing that NHS Continuing Healthcare isn’t even featured in any of the 8 pages, despite the Daily Mail’s campaign to end dementia care bills. It is so fundamental that not to even mention it as an alternative means of funding care if the criteria are met, is staggering. We want to encourage the Daily Mail to campaign for CHC Funding, too.
The starting point for dementia sufferers (Alzheimer’s or others with cognitive impairment) is to consider whether they have a ‘primary health need’, in which case individuals suffering with Dementia, may be entitled to free fully-funded care from the NHS if they meet the eligibility criteria for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding. If they do, then all discussion about paying for their care and having to sell their home is completely redundant. Their healthcare needs will be met by the NHS. Yet, this is not mentioned by the Daily Mail. So rather than attacking social care reforms, perhaps the Paper should join our campaign to raise awareness for their readers of CHC Funding and bolster their budgets to help those in need as well.
By focusing exclusively on social care (Local Authority) funding, perhaps, the Daily Mail correspondents have never heard of NHS Continuing Healthcare, or else haven’t really understood what this complex funding process is all about, or how you go about seeking CHC Funding.
No wonder NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding is often described as the “NHS’s best kept secret.”
Reminder: The starting point for ALL individuals who have a primary healthcare need, should be to assess their eligibility for CHC first, and not rush down the route of getting social care and selling their home to pay for it.
By concentrating purely on dementia as a social care need, it appears that the Daily Mail have not grasped that this funding is not the starting point. We wonder:
- How many of the Daily Mail readers have heard of NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding?
- How many of their readers have been assessed for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding?
- How many have been assessed, but rejected for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding due to flawed or incorrect assessments?
- How many readers have had to sell their home to self-fund their care when it should have been fully-funded FREE by the NHS if an assessment had taken place, or fairly and robustly carried out?
At the end of the day, it’s all about money and who pays! The NHS and each Local Authority will be keen to protect their budgets and try and get the other organisation to pay, or if all fails, to get the individual to fund their care!
Note: It is another common misconception that the mere diagnosis, such as ‘Dementia’, is a guaranteed ‘win’ entitling an individual to CHC Funding. Having this disease is just one factor that has to be considered when looking at the totality of the individual’s healthcare needs – in conjunction with the 4 key indicators (or characteristics) ie the Nature, Intensity, Complexity, and Unpredictability, and whether those needs build a picture of care that is more than what the Local Authority Social Services are legally obliged to provide.
For further information, read our blogs:
By only referring to social care needs, the Daily Mail completely ignores the overriding issue that the individual may have been entitled to NHS Continuing Healthcare at the very outset, avoiding the need to sell their home, eat into private savings and go down the means-tested route of a Local Authority assessment for social care.
It’s not just a question of having more funds to boost Local Authority fees either, to pay for dementia care, but also boosting the NHS budgets to meet their primary obligations under the National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare (revised 2018). That should be the starting point for assessing whether an individual is entitled to a fully-funded free package for all their healthcare needs.
Whilst we, and many others, will be grateful to the Daily Mail for highlighting the issue of dementia and families having to sell their homes to pay for social care needs, this was a real missed opportunity to expand the conversation, and deal with the national scandal of NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding at the same time. The fact that it is only mentioned in passing, reaffirms that not much is known in the public domain about the availability of this free funding, and much more needs to be done to prevent others from selling their family homes to pay for their relative’s care.
The Victoria Derbyshire Show on 11th June 2019 was an excellent exposé on the NHS failings to deliver CHC to those most in need and who had to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds unnecessarily on their relative’ care, when it should have been funded in full by the NHS.
Read our blog: Exposed: NHS Continuing Healthcare makes headline BBC News
The general public (and many healthcare professionals) have very little awareness of NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding. We want to encourage all our readers to spread the word about CHC. Go and educate your GP, MP, family and friends, as that is the starting point for funding care, not social services.
Write to the Daily Mail (at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) and encourage them to lift the lid on CHC funding, widen their campaign and educate the public about CHC.