The need for nursing home care can be a costly and emotional upheaval both for older people and the relatives who love them. In our latest blog, associate and long-term care expert Amanda Piper explains the legal process of funding continuing care, and why proper legal representation is vital.
Medically, mum or dad might be well enough to leave hospital and is eager to go home. Unfortunately, that is no longer possible because their dementia or infirmity has stopped them being able to live safely and independently.
The solution for many is a nursing home, but that’s going to cost a lot of money and someone is going to have to pay for it.
This is a position that families up and down the country are finding themselves in all the time as the population ages. It can be hugely distressing for an older person who has valued their independence and is now worried about how the significant cost of providing round the clock help and attention is going to be met.
If the relative has complex health needs – such as dementia – they will be assessed to decide whether they qualify for funding by Continuing Health Care (CHC) from the NHS once they leave hospital.
If they qualify, then a place will be found for them in a nursing home and the cost of their care will be met by the NHS.
This isn’t covered forever though. After about three months, the NHS will look to carry out a review.
It may be determined that the relative’s needs have changed, they may not be as severe as when they were first admitted. If this happens, the family will be asked to attend an assessment meeting.
These meetings have significant financial implications. If the outcome is that the NHS does not grant further CHC funding, then the ongoing care costs will have to be met by the relative who is in care. This can cost up to £1,000 a week and can seriously eat into their savings.
What is good, however, is that families are allowed to have legal representation at these meetings.
We often meet families and review the care plan and notes to prepare responses in readiness for the meeting. We can also attend the meeting with the family, where the social worker and the nurse assessor from the NHS will also be present, if the family wishes.
If, during the meeting, the decision is made that the funding is not granted, then we can act with the family to submit an appeal to this decision. This is one of the reasons we like to be present at the assessment meeting as we will have detailed notes to work from, as to the reasoning behind the outcome.
Overall, we want people in care to be treated fairly and funded fairly. Involving a lawyer at the early stages could really help to steer things for the better.
Amanda Piper is chartered legal executive specialising in wills and probate and is based at our Worcester office. She can be contacted on 01905 610410 or firstname.lastname@example.org