NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding (or ‘CHC’ for short) is a package of care that is arranged and funded solely by the National Health Service (NHS) and is intended to pay 100% of care fees (including accommodation) for individuals whose care needs are predominantly health needs.
The National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare and NHS-funded nursing care (revised October 2018) refers to these needs as a ‘primary health need’.
Typically, it is more common for the elderly and physically or mentally frail, or those with disabilities to have a primary health need and require long term care. However, the National Framework states that: “Such care is provided to an individual aged 18 or over, to meet health and associated social care needs that have arisen as a result of disability, accident or illness.”
To determine whether your relative has a primary health need and qualifies for CHC Funding, there is a formal assessment process to go through starting with an initial Checklist screening tool.
If your relative scores highly enough at this Checklist stage, they will ordinarily pass on to a Full Assessment, which is dealt with by a Multi – Disciplinary Team using the Decision Support Tool (DST).
The threshold for passing the Checklist stage is set relatively low, so that if your relative does not pass on to a Full Assessment, you can assume that they have little or no needs at this stage. Of course, health needs can fluctuate over time. So, if your relative’s health deteriorates then you can request another Checklist be carried out at any time to see if they then trigger for a Full Assessment.
Visit our website for plenty more free articles and information if you want to learn more about the Checklist and Full Assessment processes, what to expect, traps and pitfalls, and how to succeed. You can also read our book “How To Get The NHS To Pay For Care”.
Remember: CHC Funding is available regardless of wealth or financial means, and no matter where care is delivered. The setting is irrelevant. So, care can be provided in a care facility (eg care or nursing home) or at home.
However, many people are not told about CHC Funding (often described as the ‘NHS’s best kept secret!’), and many families who do ask about it on behalf of a spouse or 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 NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding), but it also puts families off pursuing things further. Sadly, it means that many elderly or vulnerable people, often wrongly sell their homes and everything they own to pay for their care, that should be paid for in full, free of charge, by the NHS.
It is one of the biggest financial scandals in elderly care in the UK.
One of our contributors, Admiral Philip Mathias, has said that: “This is probably one of the biggest financial scandals in the history of the NHS. It also causes untold stress and anxiety to very ill people when they are at their most vulnerable and is often a major distraction to their families, as they battle with CCGs, when they should be focussed on their loved ones who are often approaching end of life. It is an utterly disgraceful situation, given that the purpose of the NHS is to alleviate suffering, not to create it”. You can read his story here: Fighting for NHS funding for my mother was as complex as my work on the nuclear deterrent…
BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire said, “It’s a national scandal – families spending their life savings to pay for care for their severely ill relatives when it should be paid for by the state.”
Read our blog: Exposed: NHS Continuing Healthcare makes headline BBC News
At Care To Be Different we hear from many families who’ve been given incorrect information about CHC Funding by the health and social care authorities. That’s why we’re sharing with you the 10 most outrageous reasons we’ve heard for 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 once they’re discharged to their own home, care home or care facility.
2. “We’re not doing an Assessment because you won’t qualify.”
Again, no assessor (or care home nurse) can make a pre-determined judgment about funding without first doing an Assessment. This is an abuse of process.
Your relative should first undergo the screening Checklist Assessment. This determines whether your relative will receive a second Full Assessment using the Decision Support Tool. The NHS assessors should have an open mind and should not prejudge the outcome.
Make sure you’re present at every Assessment and keep a record of what was said.
3. “We’ve already assessed your relative and they don’t qualify.”
Don’t be fobbed off by such comments! Again, you have every right to attend and should be given sufficient notice of the Assessment taking place. If the proposed date or time is not convenient, say so.
You are entitled to attend, and we strongly suggest that you do!
4. “We’re not proceeding if you’ve got a lawyer.”
Assessments are supposed to be conducted fairly and impartially by the NHS’s appointed assessors. They are supposed to be familiar with the Assessment process and have been involved in your relative’s daily care.
The National Framework permits you to have any advocate of your choice to represent you at any stage of the Assessment or appeal process. You can choose to have legal representation if you wish and the NHS cannot object. Some families prefer the comfort of having a professional advocate on their side to fight for their relative’s funding. Professional advocates will spot any abuse of process and ensure that the Assessment (or appeal) is conducted fairly and robustly.
Legal advocates have exactly the same status as any other advocate and therefore should not be discriminated against. If the NHS assessors refuse to proceed with the Assessment because you have legal representation or a professional advocate, you must object and stand your ground. Otherwise, the implication is that the NHS assessors have something to hide. Perhaps they are ill-prepared for the Assessment meeting or have come with a pre-determined negative outcome in mind and don’t want to be challenged.
5. “To get Continuing Care you have to be about to die.”
The eligibility criteria for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding looks 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 CHC, and it has nothing to do with how close you are to the end of your life.
6. “There’s no NHS CHC assessor here.”
There may not be an NHS assessor where your relative is based, but that’s irrelevant. The NHS must arrange for someone to be available to carry out the Assessment.
7. “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 all of it, including the costs of accommodation in a care home.
8. “We’re too busy to assess you.”
It doesn’t matter how busy the local NHS Continuing Healthcare 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.
9. “You’ll have to pay for an Assessment.”
Nonsense! You will never have to pay for an NHS Assessment, so don’t part with any money.
….And the most outrageous reason we’ve heard so far:
10. “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 CHC 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.
If you’ve heard excuses like this or may be even something more outrageous, let us know and leave a comment below…