What Is NHS Continuing Health Care?
In England, NHS Continuing Health Care (NHSCHC) is care funded by the NHS. It is available for people aged 18 and above and is provided to meet physical or mental health care needs that have arisen through disability, accident or illness. NHSCHC is care that takes place away from a hospital. Care can be provided in your home or in residential accommodation.
Who Qualifies for NHS Continuing Health Care?
You will qualify for NHSCHC if you are assessed as having a primary health need. The NHS Choices website provides a very unhelpful circular definition of this. A primary health need, it is explained, is one that is on-going and substantial and is related to your health. An assessment will take into account the nature and complexity of your needs; the intensity and severity of your needs, and the unpredictability of your needs.
How Do You Get NHS Continuing Health Care?
In short, you need to be assessed. The assessment is carried out by a multidisciplinary NHS team. There is no right to an assessment, but if it seems that you might need NHSCHC then the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for your area must carry out an assessment.
The fact that you have a long term medical condition is not, of itself, a qualification for NHSCHC. However, the following circumstances are likely to suggest that an assessment is appropriate. 1. Where you are due to be discharged from hospital and you have long term needs, 2 Where a period of intermediate care has come to an end, 3. Where your health declines significantly, 4. Where you are approaching the end of your life, 5. Where you reside in a nursing home and your health care needs are under review and 6. Where your health and social care needs are being assessed as part of a community care assessment.
In most circumstances, there is a two stage assessment process. The first stage is an initial assessment. The purpose of this is to decide if you need a full assessment. The initial assessment may be completed by a doctor, social worker or other health care professional.
The full assessment is carried out by two or more health and/or care professionals. The assessment looks at the following criteria: behaviour, cognition (understanding), communication, psychological/emotional needs, mobility, nutrition (food and drink), continence, skin (including wounds and ulcers), breathing, symptom control through drug therapies and medication, altered states of consciousness, other significant needs.
Each of those criteria (or domains) is assessed on the following scale: no needs, low needs, moderate needs, high needs, severe needs or priority needs. The criteria in bold are assessed, on the full scale, from low through to priority. The criteria in italics are assessed from low to severe. The remainder are assessed from low through to high.
You will be eligible for NHSCHC if one or more criteria are assessed at the priority level or two or more criteria are assessed as severe. You may also be eligible if one criteria is assessed as severe and you have needs assessed in a number or other criteria or a number of criteria are assessed as high and/or moderate.
A two stage assessment is obviously a little time consuming. It can take 28 days from the initial assessment to determine you eligibility by way of a full assessment. Clearly in some cases this is far too slow. There is, therefore, a fast track procedure that can be used where your condition is worsening and/or you are terminally ill.
What Is the Cost of NHS Continuing Health Care?
There is no cost to you if you qualify for NHSCHC.
Who Provides NHS Continuing Health Care Services?
NHSCHC services can be provided by any number of health professionals including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and domiciliary carers. When you are assessed as being eligible for NHSCHC, you will be allocated a personal health budget. This is an amount of money that is used to support the needs that you have. It is similar to the personal budgets allocated by social services to support social care needs.
Just as with a social care personal budget, you can ask for your personal health budget to be paid to you in the form of a direct payment. A direct payment puts you in control of choosing who supplies your services. You don’t have to do this. You may, however, enjoy the freedom and choice that direct payments give you.