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87 per cent don’t know NHS could cover care costs

THOUSANDS of vulnerable and elderly people who should have their care costs covered by the NHS are completely unaware funding is available.

A national poll commissioned by Farley Dwek Solicitors found that 87 per cent of people did not know about NHS continuing healthcare – funding that exists to cover the care costs of those with complex medical needs.

The poll measured awareness of continuing healthcare funding among 45-60 year olds across Britain – the demographic most likely to be taking care funding decisions for their parents.

Close to a third of respondents (29 per cent) said someone close to them suffering from complex health needs had to personally finance their care.

For those who had to personally finance care, 71 per cent exhausted their savings while 65 per cent had to forego their pension income. 14 per cent had to sell their house to cover care costs.

Over a third (35 per cent) of those forced to finance their care spent more than £10,000 doing so. Close to 10 per cent spent more than £50,000 on care that could have been provided for free by the NHS.

35 per cent of people with complex care needs currently financing care are paying more than £500 a week, according to the survey.

The findings raise serious questions about why so little is known about the crucial funding, which could save vulnerable people across the UK hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In light of the findings, Farley Dwek Solicitors is launching a national ‘Two Ticks’ campaign to raise awareness about the availability of funding. It aims to help people better understand if their loved ones are eligible.

Andrew Farley, a specialist in continuing healthcare funding at Farley Dwek Solicitors, said:

“These findings are shocking but sadly they reflect the conversations we have on a daily basis. They have laid bare the extent to which people simply don’t know about NHS continuing healthcare – a critical source of funding that is supposed to support the care of society’s most vulnerable people. These are people who find themselves stricken with serious and complex medical conditions through no fault of their own – and they are entitled to this funding.

“It’s a travesty that because so few people know about the funding, there are many, many people who will have unnecessarily spent the entirety of their savings, or even had to sell their house, to cover costs they are wrongly being asked to pay for. It’s a national disgrace.

“To make sure people can access the funding they are entitled to, there needs to be a concerted nationwide effort to raise awareness around continuing healthcare. Certainly, the NHS could be doing more to promote the availability of the funding. It’s a shameful dereliction of the NHS’ founding principles that its modus operandi appears to have been to keep knowledge of the funding as limited as possible.”

“People need to be aware that it’s available and they also need to understand whether their loved ones qualify for the funding. To that end, we’ve created a publicly available ‘Two Ticks’ tool to quickly help people understand whether or not their loved ones could be eligible.

“We’re hoping it will help bring much greater clarity to people’s understanding of the funding and that those who should be receiving the funding can make sure they are taking the steps they need to secure it.”

The survey also raised questions about the quality of primary care assessments – the means by which NHS practitioners decide whether continuing healthcare funding should be granted.

More than a quarter of people (26 per cent) who knew someone closely who had applied for funding said that person was dissatisfied with the way the assessment was carried out.

Similarly, 28 per cent said the person they were close to was dissatisfied with the outcome of the assessment. Only 54 per cent said they were satisfied.

Jim Butler, 61 from Rushden, is awaiting more than £100,000 in compensation for his mother Maria after a two-year battle saw her wrongly denied funding three times before it was finally granted at a tribunal hearing.

He said: “What we had to go through to secure support for my mum was disgusting. The first time we had an assessment, the NHS’s multidisciplinary team refused to grant funding even though my mum’s healthcare needs were found to be severe in two of its assessment criteria.

“We went for two more assessments. In the second assessment they tried to say my mum only qualified for a small fixed contribution. We knew that wasn’t right and our lawyers at Farley Dwek agreed so we went for a third.

“That final assessment was harrowing. My mum became very distressed, screaming and beating the walls and doors of the room in which the assessment was taking place. It was clear to anyone that she was really unwell and needed help. They still refused to support her with care funding.

“At that stage we went to a tribunal – it was the only option left for us. They were told not only that funding would be granted, but that funding should have been granted from the very first assessment. It was sickening.

“I honestly believe that the multidisciplinary teams that conduct the assessments are there to fob you off – there is no way my mum should have been denied help.”

These latest findings add to growing concerns that people across the country face a number of obstacles when it comes to accessing the funding they are entitled too.

Andrew Farley at Farley Dwek Solicitors added: “Even for people who are aware that continuing healthcare funding exists, there is a great deal of confusion about when it should be granted. I have worked on many cases with people who feel that the lack of clarity around this issue has been exploited and used to make it as difficult as possible for those most in need to access funding.

“Funding should be granted when a person’s healthcare needs are deemed greater than their care needs. If someone is unwell to the extent that they require round-the-clock, one-to-one care then it is highly likely that funding should be granted. Anyone with a loved one in that situation should certainly consider applying for the funding.”

Anyone looking for further information about NHS continuing healthcare funding, or to access the Two Ticks tool to see if their loved one could be eligible for funding should can visit https://www.farleydwek.com/two-ticks/.

The full documents can be downloaded here:

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Are You Means Tested For Care Home Fees?

People often assume that their relatives or loved ones are ineligible for Continuing Healthcare Funding on the basis that they have substantial assets or capital which would preclude them from obtaining NHS Funding. The simple answer is that this is a matter of “health, not wealth” – that is our moto which we have been advocating for many years now.

Essentially, if your relative has less than £23,250 in capital (correct as at September 2017), then they will not have to pay for the cost of their care. It will then become a matter whether the NHS or Local Authority meets the cost of care below this threshold.

Conversely, if your relative has over £23,250 in capital, then in principle, they may be asked to pay for their own care. However, eligibility for continuing healthcare funding is not means tested – again, we repeat, it is a matter of health not wealth. Therefore, if your relative has sufficient health needs across the twelve Care Domains and those needs meet the four characteristics, namely, nature, intensity, complexity and unpredictability of needs, then in principle they should ordinarily qualify for Continuing Healthcare funding, regardless of whether they are a millionaire, or billionaire. Wealth is irrelevant. It is the health needs that are paramount.

If, of course, your relative does not meet the criteria for eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding i.e their health needs are not sufficient to trigger for NHS funding, then unless they are below the capital threshold, they will be asked to pay or contribute towards their cost of care.

Anyone can qualify for continuing healthcare funding regardless of their financial circumstances, as long as they have a primary health need, then the responsibility for providing that health need lies with the NHS, – even if the individual is a Local Authority Care Home, or in a Private Nursing Home, or receiving care at home. It is the health need which is the important factor, not the place where the care is provided. Nevertheless, the NHS through their various processes may try and ‘persuade’ families that their relative does not meet the criteria for funding (whatever the excuse), and instead, try and and palm them off to the Local Authority for care to be provided by Social Services; or alternatively, if the patient is of financial means, to suggest that they pay for their care privately. It is estimated that over 100,000 people in the UK are incorrectly paying for their care, and which should be met by the NHS if they were assessed correctly at the outset and/or re-assessed in time as their health deteriorated.

Please feel free to browse our website which provides a wealth of free information online and also get a copy of our free Guide to Care Funding Issues which can be downloaded or we can send you a copy in the post.

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