'Consistency and Transparency' key in assessing care needs
Families ‘in limbo’ whilst care home funding decisions are made
A Leeds-based lawyer specialising in care home fee claims has expressed ‘grave concerns’ amidst reports that 3000 people in England died before a decision to grant them access to NHS funding for their care needs had been made.
The outstanding applications mean many elderly people who required health and social care support will have been forced to fund their own care – often relying on family members, or left with no other option than to sell off their homes in order to make up the shortfall.
For many of the loved ones left behind they may now face a long and difficult battle to recover the costs.
James Urquhart-Burton, a Partner and specialist in recovering care home costs at Simpson Millar, said: “It’s important to point out, first and foremost, that it is a legal requirement that the NHS fund the care of people who are assessed as having a Primary Health Need.
“For the most part, those who qualify have complex, life-limiting conditions, and home care is often simply not an option.
“Despite this, the path to access such funding is convoluted. And that’s if the patient and the family are even aware that it exists in the first place.”
James went on to say that the 3000 figure was ‘likely to be a drop in the ocean’, with many more living applicants still awaiting initial, or regular follow up assessments; or currently involved in the appeals process.
<>He said: The assessment process is inconsistent, there is a lack of funding to actually carry out the assessments, and there are even inconsistencies in how the funding is referred to. No wonder people feel at a loss with regards what to do, and who to talk to.
“We are currently representing hundreds of people who are simply in limbo awaiting the outcome of their claim.”
“And even in cases where we are successful in accessing retrospective funding, in many ways the damage is done; leaving relatives feeling the undue stress of topping up fees unsure of whether they would ever see that money again, and leaving elderly people despondent that they have been unable to live their lives as comfortably as they could have otherwise done.”
James went on to say ‘consistency and transparency’ was key in reforming the system, and ensuring that those who are eligible for Continuing Healthcare Funding have access to the funding in a timely manner.
He said: “The social care green paper is due out later this year, with the Government promising to ‘do better’, but what does that look like, and what does it do to address the healthcare side of the health and social care divide? Both are in need of improvement.
“Until a fair and consistent approach to assessing people is in place and followed across the country, this issue will continue at the detriment to the wellbeing of thousands of people and their families.”
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Simpson Millar LLP
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