OpinionMar 24 2023

'Many are unaware of funded support options for long-term care'

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'Many are unaware of funded support options for long-term care'
Many are unaware of the financial support they could receive via NHS continuing healthcare. (Cate Gillon/Getty Images)

The economic crisis is prompting over 50s to delay their retirement and to seek work. In the past three months of 2022, there was a marked turnaround in those in their 50s and 60s moving out of inactivity and back into the workforce. 

The Institute of Fiscal Studies said the squeeze on living standards caused by the highest inflation rate in four decades was the likely reason why more 50 to 64-year-olds were looking for work.

With an ageing population, the cost of care is a real concern for over 50’s – not only for their own future care costs, but the number of people in their 50s, 60s and 70s caring for elderly parents is increasing.

Only last week healthcare analysts LaingBuisson confirmed the cost of care in the UK had risen by almost 10 per cent in the past year to £41,600 a year for a residential care placement and £56,056 for a nursing home placement.

The increase in the cost of care means that many people in care will run out of funds, resulting in family members being asked to pay a top-up payment for loved ones' ongoing care costs.

Fully funded support

However, what many are unaware of is the availability of full financial support.

The NHS must pay the full cost of care fees for those who have significant ongoing healthcare needs. If a patient’s needs primarily fall under health (be they physical or mental), rather than social care, they are entitled to a free package of care paid for by the NHS called NHS continuing healthcare (CHC). Funding is not related to an individual’s wealth. 

CHC is a vital source of funding for a number of individuals receiving long-term care as the NHS will pay the full cost of care. However, a lack of awareness of the funding scheme coupled with guidelines which are often forgotten or applied too restrictively, means more people could be eligible.

Despite an ageing population, NHS England figures show the number of people eligible for funding has dropped by 18 per cent in the past five years. There is also a clear postcode lottery, with people in the north of England more likely to receive funding than those in the south.

If families are unhappy with a decision, it can be challenged through the NHS appeals process.

It is very important to check that an individual has been properly assessed for CHC by way of a multi-disciplinary team assessment. Every person needing long-term care because they are ill should be assessed by their integrated care board (ICB) in England or health board in Wales.