The Great NHS Care Home Swindle
People are understandably concerned about the possibility of having to sell their homes, in order to fund care in old age.
On Sunday, 5th March 2006 the BBC current affairs programme, Panorama, highlighted injustice in the current system of assessing whether the NHS should pay the full cost of care provided to elderly people in nursing homes.
In a 1999 case involving a tetraplegic lady, Pamela Coughlan, the Courts decided that if a person’s needs are primarily for health care, the NHS should pay for all aspects of the care.
The NHS publishes ‘eligibility criteria’ from area to area, setting out who is and who is not eligible for free care. There is however a concern that most, if not all, of the guidelines currently in operation are unlawful. Many people ought to qualify, but are being told that they are not eligible, as their needs are for social rather than health care (and therefore something for which they must pay).
No one should contemplate a move into a nursing home without first checking whether they qualify for free care – many people are not told that they may be eligible or properly advised of the procedure for reviewing decisions.
Even if an elderly person is not entitled to have care funded entirely by the NHS, correct advice should ensure that he or she is not asked to pay more than necessary towards the cost of such care.
With nursing home care currently costing between £400 and £1,500 per week, it is vital that intending residents, their families and their carers seek and receive independent professional advice.