NHS continuing healthcare (CHC) is social care that is paid for by the NHS. It is available if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, and are assessed as having long-term complex health needs, which could not normally be met by social services. In Scotland, there is are different care arrangements, known as Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care.
The care may be provided in your own home, in the form of nursing visits, or could cover care home fees. The care package provided will be reviewed regularly to check that it still meets your needs. The criteria for accessing CHC are quite strict - simply being frail would not be enough. Funding for CHC varies by region, and you will need to check what is available in your area by getting in touch with your local Clinical Commissioning Group, Health Board or Health and Social Care Trust.
Eligibility is based on an assessment of your individual needs and is not linked to MS or any other specific health conditions. If it is decided that you are not eligible for NHS continuing healthcare you may be referred to social services who will assess your care and support needs and determine how much you should contribute to your care.
In January 2018, the Public Accounts Committee raised concerns that financial pressure within the NHS meant that people were not being informed about NHS continuing healthcare and that applications were taking longer than the specified 28 days. If there is an urgent clinical need, such as at the end of life, your clinicians should be able to do a fast track application for CHC so that you can move quickly and comfortably to an appropriate care package.
Personal Health Budget
If you are awarded NHS continuing healthcare in England, you will also have the right to ask for a Personal Health Budget. This is NHS money that you can use to meet your health and wellbeing needs. Health professionals can provide support to help you to plan and agree what your needs might be.
At present the scheme is only available to people in England who are eligible for NHS continuing healthcare. In April 2018 the government began a public consultation on plans to extend budgets to a wider range of people.
Social care can help people with MS to live as well as possible, by providing help in the home, in residential care or through respite breaks.
Care in the NHS
Take a look at the route that a person with multiple sclerosis might take through healthcare services in the UK, beginning with a GP or nurse, and through to more specialist services.