After being discharged from hospital, some patients need to move into a nursing home, or into the care of a health and social team.
The NHS continuing healthcare checklist is used to determine whether or not the person in question is eligible for free care under the NHS. If you are unwell yourself, or you’re anxious about the care of a loved one, it can be helpful to understand what the continuing healthcare checklist is and how it is assessed.
When is a continuing healthcare checklist needed and how long does it take?
The checklist needs to be completed before the patient it refers to is discharged from hospital. Once completed, a funding decision should be made within 28 days – and if an extension is needed, your care costs should be covered by the NHS until the outcome has been decided. In some cases, usually when dealing with terminal illnesses, it is possible to complete a ‘fast track’ assessment and therefore get a decision quicker.
Who completes it?
A health or social care professional will complete the NHS continuing healthcare checklist – usually a nurse or social worker. Whoever completes the checklist will have received training to do so, and should explain the process to you or your loved one before starting.
What does it cover?
The patient’s health and wellbeing is assessed in twelve key areas, including breathing, nutrition, mobility and cognition. The aim is to determine how independently the person requiring treatment is able to look after themselves. The nutrition category, for instance, looks at whether a patient is able to consume food and drink that will meet their nutritional requirements and whether or not they need assistance in doing so.
What happens next?
After the checklist is submitted, it will be given one of two outcomes: negative, meaning that the patient is not eligible for continuing healthcare; or positive, meaning that they will move onto the next stage of the assessment process. With negative outcomes, it is possible to have the checklist reviewed within a set timeframe if there is a reasonable expectation that the patient’s health may deteriorate over the following three months. You are also able to ask the CCG to reconsider their decision.
If the checklist comes back as positive, then the next step is for a team of clinicians to carry out a ‘Decision Support Tool’. They will determine the severity of the patient’s needs and make a recommendation for funding. Finally, that recommendation will be considered by a separate panel, who will decide whether to award the funding.
Although it may seem as though this is a lengthy process, the guidelines state that nobody should ever be left without appropriate care while the continuing health assessment process is still ongoing. We think that knowing the process used to determine funding is an important step towards understanding your own care and treatment, or that of a person who you are advocating for. Remember: if you are going through this process then you should be able to ask the healthcare professional responsible any further questions you have, to make sure that you are comfortable with what is happening.