With care costs for the elderly continuing to rise, it is all the more important to ensure that you (or your loved ones) are receiving all of your entitlements. Eligibility for social security benefits should be checked.  If you have significant ongoing healthcare needs, you may also be entitled to a free package of care through the NHS, known as ‘NHS continuing care’. 

NHS continuing care can be provided in any setting outside hospital, such as in your own home or in a care home. 

The NHS continuing healthcare assessment

There are usually three stages to the assessment, including the following:-

  1. Completion of the initial checklist (screening);
  2. Full assessment undertaken by a team of healthcare professionals;
  3. Decision made by the local Clinical Commissioning Group.

The full assessment process should take no longer than 28 days to complete. However, many people experience significant delays and assessment timescales often vary enormously depending upon where you live in the country.

Eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare

You must be assessed as having a ‘primary health need’, which means that you need care primarily because of your health needs. If your needs are particularly complex, severe or unpredictable and you do pose a risk to yourself or others, you may well qualify.

Those who are eligible for continuing healthcare should have funding backdated to the 29th day after the day on which the referral was made. 

When should an NHS continuing healthcare assessment be considered?

If your physical and/or mental health deteriorates significantly or rapidly, and your current level of care seems inadequate, you can ask your local Clinical Commissioning Group to undertake an assessment. If you are due to be discharged from hospital, it may be appropriate to ask for an assessment at that stage.  If you live in a nursing home, you should consider whether a continuing healthcare assessment is appropriate as part of your annual review.