It was so good to see BBC’s Panorama’s shining a light on the terrible things going on in the UK care system recently.
The two part series exposed the true extent of the crisis in care funding. We met vulnerable people forced into selling their homes to pay for care. Families battling a confusing and inadequate funding system. And several people who just didn’t know where to turn any more.
The dismay, exhaustion and sheer desperation on their faces was difficult to watch. Yet almost anyone who has come into contact with the UK care system in recent years will know exactly how they felt.
Unfit-for-purpose system lets people slip through the net
BBC social affairs correspondent Alison Holt showed a cash-strapped council struggling to meet even its statutory obligations towards those needing care in its community. NHS and local authority funding bodies fighting over who was responsible for funding care, with relatives left in limbo. Elderly people with dementia facing a move to a new and unfamiliar setting after their money runs out, because the council are unlikely to pay for their current one. Men and women at the end of their tether trying to cope with their relative’s illness with little or no support. And all the time, the most vulnerable in our society slipping through the net, alone, scared and at constant risk of injury, illness or worse.
The programme could have gone further in busting care funding myths
Despite the excellent job of raising awareness, however, the programme in our view could have gone much further in busting some of the myths around care funding. We heard numerous times about the means test for local authority care funding. How people who fail it have to sell their homes to pay for care.
What didn’t come across clearly enough, however, is that anyone who needs care due to a primary health need should not pay a penny towards their care. This is because they are eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare. This applies to many people with advanced Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis or dementia, all of which featured in the programme.
Many people don’t know about this funding, and often nobody tells them it exists. It combines health and social care, and is funded by NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups.
For someone who needs high levels of care due to an advanced degenerative condition, an assessment for NHS CHC should be the first thing to happen, not the last. And no one should be asked to provide information about their financial means, housing situation or anything else until it does.
Yet only one person in the programme, Rita, was shown to apply for and receive NHS CHC – for just a three month period. This was following a gruelling assessment process that really took it out of her family. “We are constantly worried about where she is going to end up,” her daughter said.
For those in the programme struggling to care for relatives at home, there was no mention of NHS CHC. This is a shame because another myth is that NHS CHC is only available for those in nursing homes. It isn’t – it can pay for care anywhere. The test is the nature and/or intensity and/or complexity and/or unpredictability of the care needs – not where the care is delivered.
Did you recognise yourself in these stories?
Did you recognise your own situation or that of your relative in the Panorama stories? If so, don’t struggle on alone any longer. With our specialist expertise, we can guide you through the confusing funding system; advise you on your eligibility for NHS CHC; and represent you through the gruelling and complex process, maximising your chances of getting the funding you need. For your free initial consultation, call us today on 0191 556 1078 or email us at [email protected].