Shedding Light On The Dementia Tax
The Law of… Avoiding The Dementia Tax
Channel 4 Dispatches’ "How to Avoid the Dementia Tax" touched on some pertinent issues regarding long term care funding.
A significant proportion of the program focussed on the Local Authority, NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding and highlighted the so called “post code lottery” which still exists today.
James Urquhart-Burton, Partner in Care Homes Claims, explains the issues that were highlighted and what they mean for those in care.
Local Authority Funding and NHS Continuing Healthcare
Local Authority funding is complex and the presenter Tazeen Ahmad went some way to dispel the common public misconception that if you have a home, then the Local Authority will take it to cover the cost of your care. She also touched the surface of the complex rules around the capital threshold used for means tested funding, as well as the circumstances when a property might be disregarded.
NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding was also addressed, which is paid where an individual is deemed to have a Primary Health Need following the completion of a Decision Support Tool and an assessment by a Multi-disciplinary Team.
James comments: “Charities, law firms and other organisations are well aware of the subjective test for eligibility for Continuing Healthcare and the various ways in which this can result in inconsistency of decision making and life changing decisions about care funding for individuals and their families."
"The example given of an elderly individual who met the criteria for a 'severe' level of need in the Decision Support Tool is one which we encounter frequently. It is good to see that programs like this make people aware of the issues. However, the question of eligibility is a complex one and takes into account a whole host of other factors."
"It is also important to note that assessments of eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare should take priority over assessments for other sources of funding, but this frequently does not happen.”
He also added, “There is an indication that the Department of Health might make changes to the current National Framework and one can only hope that these changes will represent improvements in transparency and decision-making. Having said this, we are aware that some Clinical Commissioning Groups might be delaying in making decisions about eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding which clearly is not right and will drag out what is already an emotional and lengthy process even further.”
The Deliberate Deprivation Of Capital
The second part of the programme addressed “deliberate deprivation of capital”, depicting a lady taking advice from an unregulated individual, who stated that the Local Authority could not touch the lady’s property to pay for her care if it were put into Trust.
On this, James comments, “This advice was clearly incorrect, given that in this case the purpose of creating the Trust was to deliberately avoid paying for care home fees. Therefore, it would likely be regarded as a deprivation by the Local Authority."
"When taking advice on matters which can have enormous financial consequences it is very important to seek out someone who is well established as an expert in their field and who is regulated by a professional body so that you can get the best possible advice, reach the right decision and, of course, have proper recourse if the advice you are provided is not correct."
Many are keen to know how the government envisages the provision of care going forward, given that our elderly population is continually expanding, increasing the need for care. For the time being, it is likely that funding will remain the same, so it is vital that programmes such as Dispatches will increase public awareness.