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NHS continuing healthcare

NHS continuing healthcare is a free package of care for people who have significant ongoing healthcare needs. It is arranged and funded by the NHS.

You can receive NHS continuing healthcare in any setting outside hospital, including in your own home or in a care home.

If you receive care in your own home, the NHS will cover the cost of the support you need from health professionals and the cost of personal care which can include help with washing and getting dressed. If you receive NHS continuing healthcare in a care home, the NHS will also pay your care home fees.

Eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare

When assessing your eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare, staff must follow certain processes.

You must be assessed by a team of healthcare professionals as having a ‘primary health need’ for care. This means that you need care primarily because of your health needs.

This is assessed by looking at:

  • the type and particular characteristics of your needs
  • how intense and and severe they are
  • the complexity of your needs
  • how unpredictabe your needs are; including any risks to you and others if adequate and timely care is not provided

Eligibility is always based on these needs, rather than any particular diagnosis or condition.

When should I be considered for NHS continuing healthcare?

If you have ongoing health needs, there are times when staff should consider whether you may be eligible.

These include:

  • when you are ready to be discharged from hospital and your long-term needs are clear
  • once a period of intermediate care or rehabilitation following a hospital stay have finished and it's agreed your condition is unlikely to improve
  • whenever your health or social care needs are being reviewed as part of a community care assessment
  • if your physical or mental health deteriorates significantly and your current level of care seems inadequate
  • when your nursing needs are being reviewed. This should happen annually if you live in a nursing home
  • if you have a rapidly deteriorating condition and may be approaching the end of your life

In these circumstances, your discharge staff, staff co-ordinating your intermediate care, GP or a member of the social work team should raise the issue of NHS continuing healthcare and assess your eligibility. If they don't, make sure you ask for an assessment.

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Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174

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