Year in Review – reflecting on 2019
This year has seen yet another increase in the number of clients seeking help with their assessment or appeal for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding (CHC). This is a very specialised niche area and Farley Dwek Solicitors are proud to be helping so many families get their proper entitlement to free-funded NHS care.
Getting CHC Funding can be a lifesaver for many individuals in a care facility or going into care for the first time. However, even today, so many families are facing an uphill battle against the NHS to secure vital funding which should be granted for their relative’s assessed healthcare needs, including their accommodation.
Farley Dwek Solicitors were the first, and as far as we are aware, remain the only Solicitors to provide an entirely FREE guide on NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding, which anyone can download on our website. This year over 2250 Free guides will have been downloaded or posted out, entirely free.
We have produced numerous helpful blogs on our website to help families going through the assessment or appeal process. Here are some of the year’s highlights. Click on the headings to read the full article:
This article is a must and encapsulates everything that is wrong with the CHC process!
Congratulations to Victoria Derbyshire on her heart-rending and moving exposé surrounding the national scandal of NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding. Watch the personal testimonies of families who have had to battle against the odds and the NHS ‘machinery’ to get CHC Funding for their relative. Hear stories about CCGs’ flawed assessments, incompetence, and decisions for funding which were rejected or wrongly overturned, when it appears blatantly obvious that CHC Funding should have been granted.
Hear from Andrew Farley, Solicitor, who was interviewed exclusively for the BBC programme. He said, “There are thousands of people who have been forced to sell their houses to pay for the care in circumstances when they perhaps ought not to have had to do so. The problem is that a lot of people don’t know of the existence of this funding, and even those who do know about it, have difficulty in navigating the complexities of the system. It is a national scandal that people are not being signposted to this funding.”
Andrew Farley, Solicitor, is again quoted in a Daily Telegraph article on Sunday, 10th November 2019, as he cites a case of an 80-year-old client who was left needing care following a stroke. Read his quotes to the paper and how Farley Dwek helped her save £1000 a week in care home fees. Despite initially being assessed as eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding, an annual review conducted by the CCG some 5 years later found that she was no longer eligible upon reassessment. Her CHC Funding was withdrawn without apparent good justification, despite there being no significant changes in the levels of her needs. Farley Dwek assisted the family all the way through the appeal’s process to an Independent Review Panel conducted by NHS England. They found that the CCG had been wrong, and that the client was indeed eligible for CHC Funding, as there had been no changes in the levels of needs to justify it being withdrawn.
Read about a true-life case study about an elderly lady who had been found ineligible for CHC despite the MDT’s recommendation that funding should be granted. Learn from her family’s determined fight for justice over many years, as they battled and appealed against the CCG’s intransigent and dogmatic refusal to reopen her case and undertake a retrospective review of a previously unassessed period of care. Farley Dwek Solicitors were instructed and ultimately secured over £170,000 in wrongly paid care home fees.
Despite the CCG seeking to frustrate the claimant’s application for CHC Funding at every juncture, necessitating multiple complaints, our client eventually secured CHC funding after a 5 year lengthy battle with the NHS. When it came to seeking reimbursement of the care home fees that had been wrongly paid, the family struggled to provide satisfactory proof of payment. They had kept very little documentation and the care home couldn’t assist either because it had closed and been demolished, and with it all financial records. The CCG sought to take advantage and imposed a unilateral and arbitrary deadline for providing proof, failing which they threatened to close the case, once again. So, having successfully won her case and wrongly pay for care in the first place, the CCG still tried to avoid their obligations to make fair compensation.
Read about the experiences of a family who were given incorrect information by the CCG and who told that they were having “a little meeting” for their relative in hospital which turned out to be a full-blown MDT assessment! Contrary to the National Framework, the MDT assessment took place without the family representatives being present or being given any opportunity to present their case to the assessors. Read about what happened next…
We often find that care home notes and records inadequately or insufficiently record daily entries in relation to an individual’s care needs. This could be for a variety of reasons, including poor training, lack of time and resources, or simply too few carers or nurses looking after too many patients. Deficiencies in the care records and poor record keeping can present a significant problem for families undergoing a Retrospective Review for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding. Read a case study of an individual who suffered a significant number of falls, but unfortunately, the entries in the care home records did not accurately reflect this. The lack of contemporaneous records can be very detrimental, and here it allowed the Local Resolution Panel to downgrade her ‘high’ level of need under the ‘Mobility’ Care Domain.
This headline came from The Daily Telegraph on 2nd May 2019, where it stated that, “More than 5,000 older people died due to a fall in 2017, marking a 70% increase on the numbers in 2010.”
A serious fall for an elderly person can have a dramatic effect and be a life-changing event for them, often leading to a loss of independence, and a rapid deterioration in their overall health. Elderly or frail people with thin bones (and thin skin) who fall badly, don’t generally have a good prognosis. Often, it is too difficult or risky to operate on a fracture, whether due to their age, frailty or risk of anaesthetic, and they can be left in immense pain indefinitely with reduced mobility. Bruises or open wounds can become infected and can take many months to heal. Worse still, they may not be able to communicate the level of pain to you or their carers due to cognitive impairment. Read our tips on how Farley Dwek can help if your relative has had a fall in a care home (or fallen out of a hospital bed).
We know from our own media campaigns, the National Survey we commissioned, and the general lack of media attention, that this area of CHC Funding is not widely known amongst the public. It has been described as the “NHS’s best kept secret”.
Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) have a professional duty to advise their clients as to the availability of NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding, before offering to sell a wide range of financial policies to cover the cost of care. Consideration as to whether it is appropriate to arrange for their client to undergo an NHS assessment for CHC Funding should be their first priority. Your relative’s entitlement to NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding should be the first question that is considered, not the last!
Unfortunately, in our experience, most financial advisors have never even heard of NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding. However, their lack of knowledge is not actually surprising, as many medical professionals we speak to know very little about NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding either.
Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon financial advisors and other companies providing financial advice, to explore the availability of this free funded care at the outset, as it could benefit their clients. It could save taking out unnecessary financial policies or making unwanted investments, and save you large IFA commission fees.
Whilst we recognise that every patient’s care needs will be different, the NHS assessment process allows far too much subjectivity, which unfortunately can lead to abuses of process, and funding being declined or withdrawn when it is clearly needed. We see individuals who should ordinarily get CHC Funding being wrongly turned down or having it removed upon reassessment. We question whether the system is fit for purpose and whether there is a lack of independence within the Clinical Commissioning Groups when carrying out their assessments for CHC Funding.
If CCG assessors are competent and fair when carrying out their assessments, then why do so many people get CHC Funding awarded or reinstated at an Independent Review Panel Appeal carried out by NHS England – the ultimate independent review body?
In our experience, we believe that the NHS assessment system is failing families and has been for years, as confirmed by the House of Commons Committee of Public Account. If Clinical Commissioning Groups were carrying out fair and robust assessments at first instance at local level, which are transparent, fair, accurate and robust, then inevitably there would be less appeals. Confidence would be restored, and families could be comforted that the system is working for their benefit, with care being provided free of charge at the point of need.
If your spouse, relative or friend has a ‘primary healthcare need‘, ie needs over and above those which the local authority are legally obliged to provide, then they may be entitled to have all their care fees, including accommodation, paid for free of charge, by the NHS. In order to establish whether your relative meets the criteria for a primary healthcare need and is eligible for NHS Continuing Care Funding, they’ll need to undergo an assessment.
This article looks at the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) assessment meeting, how it is constituted, who will be attending from the CCG, the Decision Support Tool and 4 Key Indicators, plus read our top 10 tips and useful advice when preparing for and attending the MDT. Farley Dwek Solicitors have a wealth of experience, gained over many years, in dealing with MDTs. We provide advocacy help and support for families, and take the stress and strain of the MDT assessment on our shoulders. We use specialist nurses who have all worked in this particular field for many years, and who understand the National Framework and know how to fight your corner. Farley Dwek Solicitors can help you at every stage of the assessment or appeal process.
Patient safety is paramount. So why do so many patients suffer falls at hospital?
Patients awaiting triage assessment at hospital, transfers, or ‘parked’ on a trolley waiting for an available bed, contribute to the majority of falls at hospital.
Most of these falls are unwitnessed – primarily due to the lack of staffing and close supervision. Staff may become distracted, perhaps whilst attending to other patients or emergencies, leaving vulnerable, elderly or cognitively impaired patients at risk of falling. Patients can be left for long periods of time on their own and may try to mobilise themselves, but without the necessary strength, awareness or cognitive function to be able to do so safely. Patients experiencing a fall at hospital usually result in spinal, hip, shoulder, arm or wrist injuries. With closer supervision and monitoring, these incidents could and should have been avoided.
Hospitals should carry out risk assessments to ensure that all patients are safe.
We believe that falling out of a hospital bed is a ‘never event’ – one of those events which is completely unacceptable and entirely avoidable if proper supervision and risk assessments are in place. Farley Dwek Solicitors help individuals claim compensation for neglect causing a fall.
Please call us for a free initial chat if you need help with your relative’s assessment or appeal on 0161 272 5222 or 0800 011 4136 or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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