"It is important that financial advisers prioritise bringing it to the attention of clients they know are dealing with care issues"
Financial advisers have a key role to play in ensuring clients organising social care for themselves or loved ones make it a priority to check whether they qualify for NHS funding, Just Group says.
Research by the retirement specialist found that three in four (76%) of over-45s had not heard of Continuing Healthcare (CHC) packages where those qualifying have their care needs paid for by the NHS.
A further 15% said they had heard of CHC but did not know any details.
A report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) recently recommended improvements needed to communications and the assessment system to ensure people receive what they are eligible for.
People are most likely to qualify for NHS CHC – also known as ‘fully-funded NHS care’ – if they have existing medical needs, are a danger to themselves or others, or their health is deteriorating. It is available to those aged 18+ based on both physical and mental needs and whether the person qualifying is living at home or in a nursing home.
Last year around 175,000 people were considered for CHC funding with about 112,000 eligible. But the PHSO also found cases where incorrect assessments had caused major failures, either due to the financial cost or the burden placed on family members to provide care themselves.
Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group, said: “NHS Continuing Healthcare is barely known so it is important that financial advisers prioritise bringing it to the attention of clients they know are dealing with care issues, for themselves or another vulnerable person.
“Many thousands of people may be missing out on the financial support which can add up to tens of thousands of pounds each year. In most case people either don’t know about it so do not apply or find they are assessed incorrectly.
“Financial advisers need to have conversations with clients that highlight issues around care because of the profound effect on people’s finances and lives, even if the care is for a parent or relative.
“Our research found that four in five (78%) of those aged 45+ who had organised care for a loved one or friend said the care system is very complex to navigate. Nearly half (49%) thought that it should be standard practice for people contacting local authorities about organising care to be referred to a professional financial adviser to help structure the finances.
“The government had planned to set out reforms in 2020 to how social care is funded but recently made a statement in the House of Lords indicating there would be further delays. This is an important area for financial advisers to keep abreast of because paying for care is a massive financial issue that is likely to affect significant numbers of clients.”