Many older people in England and their families have paid for NHS or private care and could reclaim £10,000s, even for relatives now passed away. Yet there's an urgent deadline - you must start the reclaim process by the end of this month.
Who does this affect?
If you or a relative stumped up or are paying for care - either at home or in a specialist care home since 2004 you may be eligible for a large mount of money back.
This is because in the event of care being needed for a 'primary health need' the NHS is responsible for paying for continuing healthcare and yet many people paid for it themselves.
Typical cases include someone who went into a care home and their condition worsened so that it was needed primarily for serious health reasons. Or that people simply thought they were above a threshold and needed pay for it themselves,
How do I know if I'm eligible to claim?
The NHS continuing healthcare benefit meets the full cost of accommodation in a care home (if needed), plus healthcare from nurses or specialists, and any help needed with basic tasks like bathing and dressing - if you're eligible for it.
But working out eligibility is, sadly, not a simple box-ticking exercise. It's the NHS that assesses this and it's wooly as there's no list of conditions instead its based on a score.
The health needs can be physical or mental, caused by disability, accident or illness. Yet for this to count it needs to be a primary cause of the need for care - for example a combination of severe dementia and incontinence would likely qualify.
What's the deadline to claim?
If you paid for care between 1 April 2004 and 31 March 2011, the deadline to start the process is 30 September - there's no deadline to complete the process by.
The person who received care themselves, or a relative or carer can put in a claim (see the useful links section top right for detailed help). The NHS will do a provisional assessment of whether the NHS thinks you are likely to qualify for NHS continuing healthcare - to get one you need to contact your local Primary Care Trust's continuing healthcare co-ordinator. You should be able to get their details by asking at your GP surgery or finding your local PCT.
If you pass the premilimenary assessment you will then be referred for a full assessment. If the claim is successful the NHS should pay for all nursing and accommodation costs incurred during the period you were assessed for - this can be £100,000s.
What about someone needing care now?
If someone is about to start care and has primary health needs, the NHS is still responsible for providing continuing healthcare - so you should investigate and get an assessment done to see if they're eligible.