The 10 biggest myths about NHS Continuing Healthcare funding
Angela Sherman, Director of Care To Be Different an online information resource about NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, debunks common mistruths about NHS Continuing Healthcare funding.
Are you sorting out full time care for an older relative? Be aware that you may be given incorrect information about care fees and NHS. When it comes to NHS Continuing Healthcare, it’s likely you’ll be told one of the 10 biggest myths about NHS care funding and your relative may lose out as a result.
What is NHS Continuing Healthcare?
This is NHS funding for full-time care. It’s available to people with health needs who meet certain criteria for nursing care and it covers 100% of care costs, including 100% of the costs of being in a care home.
Information about NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, even when provided by the health and social care authorities, can be misleading and sometimes just plain wrong. Misinformation could lead to your relative paying tens of thousands of pounds for their care when the NHS may actually have a duty to cover the cost instead.
Your parent may also have been given advice about care fees by a legal or financial professional but be aware that they might not necessarily understand why NHS Continuing Healthcare funding is the very first thing that should be mentioned to someone who needs full time care.
The following tips will help you and your parent understand what’s right and what’s not when it comes to NHS Continuing Healthcare funding:
1. “If you have savings over £23,250 or a house, you have to pay for care.”
Mistakes about paying for care are made right at the start. People are frequently told that if they have a certain level of savings and assets, then they have to pay for their own care regardless. This is not true. What should happen right at the start is an assessment of their health and care needs, not their money.
It’s only if they are not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding that their money should even been discussed. However this almost always happens the wrong way round with people being asked about their money from the outset.
2. “If you have dementia you’re not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare.”
Sadly many families are told this by NHS, local authority assessors and others. It’s crystal clear from all the guidelines about Continuing Healthcare that the funding has nothing whatsoever to do with any specific diagnoses. Instead it’s to do with day-to-day health and care needs regardless of diagnosis and regardless of whether or not a person has dementia.
3. “You always have to sell your home.”
Almost always a person needing full time care will be asked “Do you have a house?” However the first question should be “What are your health needs and your nursing needs?”
Your parent should only have to sell their home if they’re not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, if their care needs are definitely social care needs and not nursing needs, if they have no other savings and if they actually choose to sell it. You and your parent may be able to negotiate a Deferred Payment Arrangement with the local authority.
4. “There’s no point having an assessment because you won’t qualify.”
No one can say whether or not a person will be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare until the proper assessment process has been followed. Many people are simply told they ‘don’t qualify’ and yet their needs will either not have been assessed at all or will have been assessed without due regard to the Continuing Healthcare guidelines.
5. “All care is means tested, regardless of what kind of care you need.”
The key thing to remember here is that care is not just care. There is social care and there is healthcare/nursing care. Generally speaking healthcare and nursing care are provided by the NHS and are free (the NHS should never means test). Social care, on the other hand, is provided by the local authority and is means tested. Before any person is means tested they should first be considered for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding.
6. “To receive NHS Continuing Healthcare funding you have to be on a ventilator or unable to swallow.”
This is completely wrong and yet people are often told this. See myth no. 2.
7. “You have to be in a care home to receive NHS Continuing Healthcare funding.”
Continuing Healthcare funding is available to people in their own homes and there is no limit on the number of hours of care that it covers.
8. “It’s not worth applying for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding because it only covers high level and specialist nursing needs.”
Continuing Healthcare eligibility depends on your parent’s day-to-day health and care needs and they can be in an ordinary residential care home and still receive NHS Continuing Healthcare funding.
9. “Family members are not allowed to attend Continuing Healthcare assessments.”
It is vital that family members are involved in assessments which is something that is reinforced in the Continuing Healthcare National Framework guidelines.
10. “If you have a spouse, you won’t be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare because your spouse can pay for your care.”
No one should be asked to pay for anyone else’s care nor should anyone be asked to move out of or sell their home to pay for someone else’s care.
There are many additional myths in circulation about NHS Continuing Healthcare funding. If you’re arranging care for a relative or if they’ve been in care for some time already be sure the information you’re given about care fees and care funding is correct.
Stop press: From June 2019 you can download our up-to-date guide to working your way through the complex process of claiming NHS Continuing Healthcare funding. Find it on our downloads page.
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