Continuing care

The National Service Framework for Continuing Care

On 1 October 2007 the government introduced a new national framework and guidance for determining eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare, which is a package of services arranged and funded by the NHS for people outside hospital with ongoing health needs. The aim is to provide fairer and more consistent access to NHS funding across England, so that people with equal needs have an equal chance of having their care needs met free of charge.

What is Continuing Care?

Continuing Care means care provided over an extended period of time to an adult to meet physical or mental health needs arising from disability, accident or illness.

If the main need for care relates to health, the NHS is responsible for providing for all care needs (“fully funded NHS care”), which could mean you are eligible for free NHS Continuing Healthcare, rather than having to pay for local authority community care support. This healthcare can be provided in any setting; home, care or nursing home.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for continuing care, a patients' main needs must relate to their health. This is likely to mean a complex medical condition requiring lots of care and support, such as highly specialised nursing support. Someone approaching the end of their life is also likely to be eligible, if they have a condition that may be terminal.

According to the framework, the decision must be made on the basis of a person's health care needs, not their diagnosis, so each case must be assessed individually. As well as nursing care needs, physical, mental, psychological and emotional needs will be assessed.

An initial screening is carried out by a qualified health professional or social worker, who will determine whether to refer for a full assessment by a multidisciplinary team.

The Department of Health website gives further information and advice on continuing care.

Marie Curie Hospices provide nursing care free of charge to patients and their families. Visit their website for more details.