Conversations about continuing healthcare generally start from the perspective that you own property that you are worried about being used for the assessment of care home fees. It depends on the reason for having to go into care or what kind or care you may need at home. Some people with long-term complex health needs qualify for free social care arranged and funded solely by the NHS. This is known as NHS continuing healthcare.
NHS continuing healthcare can be provided in a variety of settings outside hospital, such as in your own home or in a care home.
To be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, you must be assessed by a team of healthcare professionals (a multidisciplinary team). The team will look at all of your care needs and relate them to consider:
- What help you need
- How complex your needs are
- How intense your needs can be
- How unpredictable they are, including any risks to your health if the right care isn’t provided at the right time
Your eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare depends on your assessed needs, and not on any particular diagnosis or condition. If your needs change then your eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare may change.
You should be fully involved in the assessment process and kept informed, and have your views about your needs and support taken into account. Carers and family members should also be consulted where appropriate.
A decision about eligibility for a full assessment for NHS continuing healthcare should usually be made within 28 days of an initial assessment or request for a full assessment.
If you aren’t eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, you can be referred to your local council who can discuss with you whether you may be eligible for support from them.
If you still have some health needs then the NHS may pay for part of the package of support. This is sometimes known as a “joint package” of care.
Information and advice
The process involved in NHS continuing healthcare assessments can be complex.
NHS continuing healthcare assessments
Clinical commissioning groups, known as CCGs (the NHS organisations that commission local health services), must assess you for NHS continuing healthcare if it seems that you may need it.
For most people, there’s an initial checklist assessment, which is used to decide if you need a full assessment. However, if you need care urgently – for example, if you’re terminally ill – your assessment may be fast-tracked.
Fast-track assessment for NHS continuing healthcare
If your health is deteriorating quickly and you’re nearing the end of your life, you should be considered for the NHS continuing healthcare fast-track pathway, so that an appropriate care and support package can be put in place as soon as possible – usually within 48 hours.
Care and support planning
If you’re eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, the next stage is to arrange a care and support package that meets your assessed needs.
Depending on your situation, different options could be suitable, including support in your own home and the option of a personal health budget.
If it’s agreed that a care home is the best option for you, there could be more than one local care home that’s suitable.
Your CCG should work collaboratively with you and consider your views when agreeing your care and support package and the setting where it will be provided. However, they can also take other factors into account, such as the cost and value for money of different options.
If you’re eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, your needs and support package will normally be reviewed within 3 months and thereafter at least annually. This review will consider whether your existing care and support package meets your assessed needs. If your needs have changed, the review will also consider whether you’re still eligible for NHS continuing healthcare.