Retired legal professional Gilmour Shelley was forced to learn quickly the complex rules around the NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding after his 82-year-old father-in-law was rushed into hospital just after Christmas in 2013.
During his stay in hospital, Mr Shelley’s father-in-law’s condition deteriorated to such an extent that he was told he wouldn’t be able to go back home to live on his own and would have to be looked after in a care home. He had previously been supported by regular social care visits for which he had paid.
Through support from specialist care funding solicitors Farley Dwek, Mr Shelley was able to secure temporary funding through the NHS Continuing Healthcare policy, and is awaiting a final decision on full financial support. But as he explains, the process was not straightforward.
He said: “My father-in-law became ill on New Year’s Eve 2013 and after being rushed into hospital it became quite apparent he had dementia that was rapidly deteriorating. He had previously been an independent person, living at home alone with support twice a day from social care workers to help him with meals and getting dressed.
He was in hospital for about six weeks, during which time he contracted pneumonia. We were told he would have to go in to a care home as his worsening dementia meant he could no longer live at home alone. This was such a shock as we had never contemplated this scenario or even carried out research into it.
My wife and her brothers started looking into suitable care homes, as they had been told by a social worker that as the fees were means tested, the fact my father-in-law owned his property and had savings meant he would have to pay the care home charges. There was no mention of an assessment for the NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding.
Fortunately I had heard about this funding so after some quick research on the internet, asked for an assessment to be carried out. In mid-February this year the family was shocked as this was carried out while he was still in his hospital bed and with no members of the family present.
I then found the results on his bedside table and upon reading the report was appalled as it didn’t seem to match the condition we knew my father-in-law was in.
I immediately wrote a nine page document on why the family believed the assessment to be wrong and handed it to the hospital. Within 48 hours I received a telephone call from the hospital ward manager, who apologised for the way the assessment was carried out and promised a new one within a few days.
The first assessment resulted in ten C and one B grades, which meant my father-in-law wasn’t eligible for care home funding under the NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding, but the second assessment results produced three A, three B and five C grades, which meant he moved to the next level and a Decision Support Tool meeting. This eventually decides if full financial support for care home fees is provided.
After further reading into the subject I was struggling to understand the medical terminology and criteria required for the funding. I then searched for suitable support, was impressed with Farley Dwek and contacted Andrew Farley.
Within 48 hours we had a meeting with the specialist nurse appointed by Farley Dwekand she explained the process that would be undertaken, the terminology that would be used at the Decision Support Tool meeting and attended it with us to ensure the correct procedure was followed.
Our family felt such relief when we realised the professional support we were receiving from Farley Dwek would remove a huge amount of stress. The outcome of the meeting in mid-March resulted in my father-in-law receiving an interim six week funding for his care home fees.
He entered the nursing home, which is almost next door to his home, in early April and unfortunately his condition has deteriorated further.
At the end of May there will be a final assessment of my father-in-law, at which Farley Dwek will continue to provide professional support and advice. He is now bed-bound and can’t stand so we’re confident the care home fees will be met through the NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding.
The complexity of the process we’ve had to undertake has been horrendous for the family, in particular my wife, but the support we received from Farley Dwek has been exceptional.
From the moment I picked up the phone to Farley Dwek the stress levels we suffered dropped significantly as we had everything explained to us. As it was no-win-no-fee, we had nothing to lose.
I would urge people to check whether their relatives are eligible for financial support for care home fees through the NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding and contact Farley Dwek. They will be able to advise on who is applicable and be with you throughout the process, making sure you keep what is rightfully yours and your family’s.
There should be much more publicity about NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding, so families don’t have to go through the extremely stressful process of finding the right care home and the money to pay the fees.
Currently the system doesn’t work for people and the emotions of putting a family member in a care home can often lead to people forgetting about whether they are applicable for financial support.
Paying for care home fees is so complex, your only hope is professional help. If a relative of yours is going into a care home or nursing home, I’d fully recommend calling Farley Dwek to see if you are eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding.
The family have never had a problem or criticism of his standard of care while in hospital, just the process of being assessed for continuing health care.”
Andrew Farley of Farley Dwek, said:
“The current funding system is unfair as it hits those who have worked their whole lives, spent their money wisely and put a bit aside for a rainy day. Families are spending millions of pounds on care home fees unnecessarily. They often struggle to secure the funding because they are given short notice by their local NHS to attend a complex funding assessment meeting. In many cases they are improperly assessed or even worse, not advised that funding is available at all.
“Crucial decisions are made that could spell the difference between paying nothing and paying £700 a week.
“We’re pleased to be supporting Mr Shelley and hope his case is resolved successfully very soon to ensure his family don’t have to sell a property that holds many years of happy memories spent with his father-in-law. You can’t put a price on keeping memories and we hope we’ve helped preserve many happy memories for the family.
“Applying for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding is confusing, emotional and complex. We’re happy that we’re providing a much-needed service for families all over the UK.”