Posted: Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:21 am
Health funding scandal: Millions lose homes to pay for care.
MORE than a million homes have been sold by desperate families forced to pay care bills for loved ones, and many cases should have been funded by the NHS.
The chaotic Continuing Health Care (CHC) system has seen families take out loans and spend their savings while their claims sit in limbo for up to five years.
Authorities have been accused of keeping funding options secret to save on soaring nursing costs for the elderly even though they are liable. They are often ordered to pay back years of fees plus interest running into millions. Age UK says the complaints caught in NHS bureaucracy runs to an "industrial scale" and thousands of relatives believe health officials deliberately make it difficult for them to claim under the scheme.
Pensioners qualify for nursing care and accommodation if they are judged to have clear medical needs.
But campaigners say assessments are often not carried out under national guidelines and families are not told about their rights.
"It is a scandal - authorities are taking advantage of people who do not know the system and cannot fight huge layers of bureaucracy," says Keith Mulcahy, who was told his mother Patricia, 80, who had vascular dementia, suffered multiple strokes, needed oxygen, couldn't speak, feed herself or move, had no medical needs to qualify for full funding.
Her local authority also dismissed a claim for fast-track care, designed for end of life, because she was deemed not likely to die within three months; she died three weeks after the rejection.
"This is a woman who was a nurse, brought up a family, paid her taxes yet they tried everything they could to avoid their responsibilities," says Keith, a decorator, from Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. "It is disgraceful."
His MP, Conservative Craig Whittaker, has joined Age UK and other MPs calling for reform to a system branded 'complex and corrupt'.
An estimated one million homes have been sold by pensioners to fund care while another two million have had to use their savings, a specialist firm of lawyers claims.
By 2040 one in seven people will be over 70. CHC liabilities rose from £134million in 2011/ 12 to £764million in 2012/13 and continue to climb.
"There are many distressing cases," says Jonathan Dwek, of solicitors Farley Dwek. "Some people are selling their parents' homes when there was no need to had they been properly assessed.
A lot of assessments are incorrect but, if you are fighting the NHS machine, you have an uphill struggle. People due this free package are not being told and they are having to fight for it."
The system is so underresourced some cases take five years before assessment. Donna Cleverley's grandmother, Ethel Angus, died in March 2014. The case to reclaim £50,000 fees will be judged in the next month.
"The system needs reform because families are put through the mill," says Mr Dwek. "Some cases take seven years to resolve and that is people who parted with money a long time ago and the interest is phenomenal.
“Why should the public pay if the NHS can't get its act together?"
The Government came under fire last year for suggesting the elderly pay more for care. NHS head Simon Stevens said retired Britons had £1.5trillion in "accumulated housing wealth" which should be used for care bills rather than taxes being raised.
Donna, 49, from Coventry says her grandmother's right to funding only emerged after a care home worker tip-off. "We just assumed we had to pay the fees," she says.
"She had dementia and was in the home more than two years and died just before her 100th birthday. We were paying £2,700 a month when she should have been covered because she needed nursing not residential care.
It's appalling, the home was quick enough to phone or write if we were late with a payment."
Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams says: "NHS Continuing Health Care is a lifeline. However, the way you access it is incredibly complex with families embroiled in bureaucracy.
"An older person has to be in very poor health for CHC and it is tragic when families have to fight to get care rather than being able to be there with and for their loved one."
Patricia mulcahy was still driving and helping neighbours with their gardens in Halifax when she started having falls and became forgetful. She was taken into Huddersfield Royal Infirmary but her condition deteriorated at a rapid rate.
As son Keith, 56, worried about her health an insidious problem was about to blight his final moments with his 80-year-old mother. Amid the efforts to stabilise her condition, Keith was regularly asked about her finances and if she was a homeowner.
"I didn't understand at first but it was repeated time and time again. I must have been asked directly seven or more times," he says.
"It was tough watching my mum deteriorate. She was very kind, always helping others and had a great sense of humour but all that was slipping away."
After 11 weeks, Patricia was diagnosed with vascular dementia, suffered multiple strokes, was treated for pneumonia and became doubly incontinent. She couldn't move, feed herself or speak.
"They said she had no primary care needs and had just social needs which was surprising," adds Keith, who researched NHS Continuing Health Care regulations and case histories.
"I was increasingly concerned with how the health authorities were dealing with her while they were badgering me about money. In one meeting they denied my mother needed oxygen but when we went back to the ward she was on a breathing mask."
Patricia was sent to a care home but rapidly returned to hospital after the managers said they could not provide the necessary care. Keith and his partner Ellie attended a meeting with eight hospital staff where his claim for funding was dismissed.
"These meetings intimidate people.They arrive with files and folders and it basically bamboozles ordinary people," he says.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS FoundationTrust is investigating the case. NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group says it will investigate his concerns.
It is time that the Government took a long, hard look at how we care for the elderly because it hasn't got it right and it is causing a lot of anxiety.
I was a nurse for 20 years with 14 spent in continuing healthcare and prior to that worked for 10 years as a carer and auxiliary nurse in hospitals and care homes, so I have seen where it works well and where it is fractured.
One of the main issues is a lack of consistency in how the rules are applied and that causes confusion. There are a lot of differences across the country even though there have been attempts to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.
Reforming the system would make it easier for staff to make accurate assessments and to ensure more people got what they are entitled to.
I now work as an independent assessor for claims companies, some clinical commissioning groups and individuals fighting for their rights, and I have seen and heard about cases that seem very unfair but no one in healthcare wants that to happen, so it would be good to improve the system for everyone.
It all relates to how we care for the elderly as a society. In Scotland, this care is funded by the state, it is in the budget, but the NHS is still adrift in finding a solution for people who deserve support and dignity in their older years.
The impact of these cases is not just felt by the families, because care homes are closing at an alarming rate, partly because they don't get these funded patients.
It is terrible when families are forced to fight but it is part of a wider issue that needs sorting out.
Healthcare staff, patients and their families all deserve better.
I look forward to reading all of this at a later date. Am away but thought I would just check in as you answered my postChris From The Gulag wrote: ↑Tue May 29, 2018 9:01 amI created the CHC THREAD in response to the number of posters asking questions.
https://www.carersuk.org/forum/support- ... here-35998
Before that , I did not know CHC even existed !
Slight detour in acknowledging the very first " Trawler " who kept us fed on background research and information in CarerWatch days ... a role I assumed on here on my return some 20 odd months ago.
Having created that thread , like finishing a painting , time to step back and look at the Frankenstein created monster ... even an abstract which is whatever you imagine it portrays ?
As for the academics , they have a vested interest in their interpretation ... their carees and pay cheques depend on it ... so , what price your interpretation ???
Ignore what it says , where it points ... what does it all mean ?
To me , a complete layman when it comes to caring in 2018 , it appears to be a more intense level of " Nursing " NOT freely available within the normal NHS system.
First question ... why should that be so ?
A form of rationing as the NHS has not the resources to deal with all patients and all illnesses seems to be the only logical answer.
We already see that some illnesses ... say cancer ... are treated under the NHS whilst others ... say dementia ... are not ( Demned social care ... where we come in ! ).
Given what's available within the main thread , a second question.
Why so complex in all steps ... from even knowing it exists to finally receiving the green light ?
Only one real answer ... it is designed to be so because it IS being rationed ... similar to casaulties in a battle being assessed by the medics as to who is probably going to live and who isn't ???
To even get to see a doctor would be a victory , of sorts , to many in that situation.
Spin off question ... like the Care Act syndrome ... how many entitled to CHC simply give up / throw the towel in because it IS so complex ???
I'll leave it there as I consider that rationing is the main premise ... why so is a different question.
Interestingly , Carers UK recently asked us for our experiences on hospital discharges ... my immediate reaction was that it was only one part of the bigger picture ... CHC is another part of the same picture.
In both , the knock on effect can be seen right across CarerLand.
If the NHS are rationing by design , and chucking out patients too early , WHO IS PICKING UP THE PIECES ?
Need a clue ?
Strange how sitting on a hill looking down at CarerLand gives one a clearer vision of what's really wrong than being at street level ... caught up in the daily street fighting for anything ... including food , heat and , for some , a rain proof roof over one's head ... which is what the nationwide gulag known as CarerLand has become ?
A society within a society ... once you're in , just try and get out ... and then having to leave your caree at the mercy of the System ???
Former carers ... we have our uses ???