A recent report published by the Continuing Healthcare Alliance – ‘Continuing to Care?’ – has criticised how the NHS allocates Continuing Healthcare Funding (CHC). The Alliance – comprising of 13 charities that include the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK and Parkinson’s UK – has condemned the NHS for subjecting the elderly and sick to a harrowing assessment regime where many who ought to be eligible are denied much-needed support.
Where an applicant is successful, CHC funding will cover their full care costs, whether these are at home or in a residential nursing home. Funding is awarded regardless of the applicant’s savings or income.
If an applicant is unsuccessful they must meet their full care costs until their assets (including their home) amount to £23,250 or less. At that stage the NHS will pay for some of their care costs. Once their assets reach £14,250, the NHS take over making the payments. Nursing homes cost an average of £756 a week, according to the healthcare analyst Laing Buisson.
The study includes interviews with 409 professionals in the healthcare industry, alongside individuals that participate in the complex CHC assessment process. Additionally the Alliance made freedom of information requests to the 213 Clinical Commissioning Groups who are considered the ‘gatekeepers of funding’ in England.
According to the report, Health Authorities are routinely breaching the NHS guidelines on assessing an applicant’s eligibility for funding. Consequently, those who ought to be entitled are being denied – and in some cases, the applicant has actually died before a full assessment has taken place. The NHS guidelines state that the decision to award funding should take a maximum of 28 days.
Successfully securing CHC funding is a difficult process that can involve a number of assessments. In many cases, families find themselves in disagreement with healthcare professionals about the extent of their loved one’s needs. The criteria for funding is vague with no particular condition meriting the award because everyone is affected by conditions differently.
When funding is awarded, applicants may find themselves disagreeing with the NHS once again over how much will be paid. Reassessments may take place annually, even where conditions are bound to deteriorate.
The report makes a number of recommendations, such as putting a stop to reassessments where eligibility clearly will not change. For example, if someone is suffering from Parkinson’s, the condition is degenerative – and any reassessment will simply be a waste of time and resources.
What you can do
If an elderly relative is paying for their own care, make sure they have had an assessment for CHC. If they were not eligible and you do not agree with that decision, consider making an appeal – the details of how to do this can be found on the Care to be Different website.
It can help if the relative makes A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) giving you authority to make health and care decisions on their behalf. This will allow you to have more involvement in the assessment and appeals process if necessary.
If you have a partner, you may also wish to leave your share of any jointly owned property in trust in your Will. This allows your partner use of the property during their lifetime, after which it will go to whoever you choose – your children, for example. Should your partner need care after your death and find themselves ineligible for CHC funding, the Local Authority cannot take your share of the property into account when conducting a means test – keeping your children’s inheritance safe. Get in touch with our Later Life Planning Department for more details: