How we help with Care Issues and Questions about the Funding of Care
“I greatly appreciate your care and understanding of my problems and the thoroughness with which you considered and advised me on the various options”
The care system is complex, both practically and legally. Finding a way around it and understanding the rules is not easy. There are different rules for health care (provided by the NHS) and ‘social’ care (provided by local authorities and often arranged by social services). The duties and obligations of the NHS and local authorities are different. There are different rules for care provided in a care home and care provided at home. Understanding the differences between the rules for health and social care is not straightforward. We expect the legal rules to be black and white but the care system is full of grey areas, and boundaries are often blurred. Understanding your rights is one thing, enforcing them is another. Simple, clear advice is hard to come by.
The boundaries between health care and social care are important because NHS care is free whereas services arranged by social services are means tested.
NHS continuing health care funding is available for people who have primary health needs. The nature and intensity of the health needs must be significant and conditions will generally be complex and unpredictable. People who are terminally ill and who have a rapidly deteriorating condition will receive palliative care free of charge.
NHS continuing health care funding does not however give people the same degree of choice about where and how they receive care, as people have when they are funding their own care.
Where care is concerned, what actually happens can be very different to what the law says should happen. We know from a number of successful and high profile judicial challenges that sometimes some of our largest and most important institutions (the NHS and local authorities) think that they are above the law and can ignore it. Individual rights about choice of care are compromised and ignored because of ever tightening budgets. The ordinary person may feel that they cannot take on these giants – but people have, and they have won, again and again.
Since October 2007 NHS continuing healthcare has been governed by The National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare. It sets out clear principles and processes to be followed and there are tools and checklists to assist with its implementation. This National Framework is better than the various regional variations (some of which had been unlawful and very unfair) which preceded it, but things still go wrong. Legal challenges can be complex and time consuming. We work with expert specialist solicitors who deal with funding challenges and make successful claims for our clients.
We are consulted about NHS continuing healthcare funding, care at home, residential care, top-up fees and all the day to day issues concerning vulnerable people who need help and support. We help identify the right care homes and we will monitor the care provided there. We become ‘hands on’ when we act as attorneys – both for property and financial affairs and health and welfare.
Sometimes we need to speak up for people who have lost capacity and also for people who should be listened to because they have capacity – but they may be treated as though they don’t, simply because of age or other vulnerabilities. We work with independent nurses who will assess, monitor and improve the care our clients receive. You can help your family to help you by making a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney.
Care home contracts should be carefully read and understood before they are signed. Do not sign a care home contract if there is anything you are unsure or unhappy about. Care home ‘Management Fees’ are sometimes unfairly charged over and above the weekly care fees without explanation. The Office of Fair Trading has been highly critical of these fees. The contract should be clear and fair. We can advise individuals and our Business Team can also help care home owners get things right.