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NHS Continuing Healthcare

What is NHS Continuing Healthcare?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, if a person has a disability or long-term complex medical problem, they might qualify for a package of social care arranged and funded solely by the NHS called NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC).

In Scotland there are different care arrangements called Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care.

Who is eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare?

NHS Continuing Healthcare is for adults. To be eligible, the care needs for the person you are caring for will need to be assessed to review: 

  • what help they need
  • how complex their needs are
  • how unpredictable their needs are, including any risks to their health if the right care isn't provided at the right time.

If the health of the person you are caring for is rapidly getting worse, ask about a fast track assessment to bypass the initial screening.

How do I apply for NHS Continuing Healthcare?

To apply for NHS Continuing Healthcare, ask your GP or social worker to arrange an NHS Continuing Healthcare assessment. You may find it useful to see if a family member, friend or independent advocate might be willing to accompany you during the assessment and help support you through the process.

What happens during the assessment?

The person you are caring for will be assessed on general health and care needs with a checklist that will cover:

  • Mobility
  • Breathing
  • Continence
  • Communication
  • Nutrition (food and drink)
  • Skin (including wounds and ulcers)
  • Psychological and emotional needs
  • Altered states of consciousness
  • Symptom control through drug therapies and medication
  • Cognition (everyday understanding of what’s going on around you)
  • Other significant care needs

If the initial screening shows that the person you are caring for might be able to get NHS Continuing Healthcare, they will need to have another assessment.  It will be carried out by a team of two or more health- and social-care professionals who are involved in their care. They will use the same checklist above but will go into a lot more detail.

If NHS Continuing Healthcare funding is agreed for the person in need of care, a team providing the care package will discuss what options are available to you and should ensure that you are kept fully informed. 

NHS Continuing Healthcare is reviewed at three months and then annually. If the person's health condition has changed though, a new review can be requested sooner.

Where can I get further help with NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments?

The process involved in NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments can be complex. An organisation called Beacon offers some free, but primarily paid for, advice and advocacy services. You can visit the Beacon website or call the helpline on 0345 548 0300.

Or you could contact your local Healthwatch as they should be able to direct you to your local NHS independent advocacy service ( or call 03000 683 000) .

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