By Rosalind Hughes, founder, Just Caring Legal
It seems incredible to me that we are still, almost ten years after the Dilnot Commission Report on Social Care, rehashing the same old debates on how to build a fair, sustainable care system. Articles like the one I read in the Spectator this week seem designed to set us back a decade. Entitled “Selling the family home to pay for care is not an injustice”, the article points out that 17,000 older people in the past year have been forced into selling homes to pay for care. That figure is up 45 per cent since 2000. This “might be an emotional wrench for families, but it cannot really be described as a ‘scandal’,” the Spectator says. “Indeed, the cry of free care for all involves a far greater unfairness, since such a measure could only be paid for by a huge rise in taxation.”
The article fails to address the real unfairness about selling homes to pay for care
Let’s ignore the giant straw man in the room. (Very few solutions to the social care problem involve “free care for all”.) More important is that the article fails to mention the real unfairness at the heart of the debate on care. And that is the human lottery that means some will end up paying catastrophic care fees over their lifetime – due to Alzheimer’s, say, or disability – while others will never have to shell out a penny. Most of those needing years of care will carry on paying for it until almost all of their lifetime’s capital has gone. This is the main injustice that no government in the past decade has managed to solve.
The biggest scandal of all – NHS Continuing Healthcare
Free care, paid for through taxation, is exactly the principle on which our great NHS was founded. The real scandal is that thousands of people have been unlawfully denied free NHS care at the point of need. This is the scandal of NHS Continuing Healthcare. NHS CHC is funding for care that should be provided outside hospital to all those with a primary health need. It is not means-tested and it should cover all the costs of meeting care needs. This includes residential or nursing accommodation where necessary. Property and other assets should never be brought into the equation when assessing someone for NHS CHC. Yet in our experience, it often is. In fact, we find that it is frequently because someone owns a property that they fail to receive this vital funding.
The numbers receiving NHS CHC have significantly reduced since 2015, even while the numbers of elderly people have been increasing. In the absence of this funding, many people are wrongly selling homes to pay for the care they desperately need. According to the judicial review campaign set up to challenge this, between £2.5billon and £5billion has been unlawfully paid out. If you wish to join the campaign to end this scandal, you can find out more here.
Are you one of those people selling homes to pay for care?
If you are one of those families that has sold – or fears you will have to sell – a home to pay for care, get in touch. We will listen to your story and give you our free initial assessment of whether your relative should be receiving free NHS care. Don’t be another statistic in the ongoing NHS CHC scandal. Let us help you secure your future and that of your family – call us today.