Q: I have an elderly spinster aunt who after having a severe stroke has been in a nursing home for the past eighteen months and will spend the remainder of her days there. As her next of kin I was going to sell her home to pay for her care as her savings are diminishing at an alarming rate. However, someone has recently told me the NHS should be paying for her care as she requires nursing. Is this correct?
A: If a person's predominant need is for nursing care the NHS is obliged to provide it free of charge, irrespective of whether the care is provided at home, in a private nursing home, or in hospital. However, the eligibility criteria are high and care funding is an extremely complex process that usually requires expert assistance to work through if a satisfactory outcome is to be achieved.
It would appear your aunt does require what is termed ‘continuing healthcare', in which case the NHS should have been funding it. As well as applying for them to fund the care from hereon you should put in a claim to claw back her care costs to date. You should do this as soon as possible because in March the Department of Health announced deadlines for such claims, though they did not widely publicise the fact.
Claims for people who paid for their care between April 1st 2004 and March 31st 2011 must be registered with the NHS by September 30th 2012. Claims for care between April 1st 2011 and March 31st 2012 must be registered by March 31st 2013. Potential entitlement to reimbursement applies not only in respect of people who contributed to their own nursing care from April 2004 onwards, but also in respect of people who contributed from that date and have since died.