65, West Midlands

Nigel’s mother had a stroke four years ago. She lived at home for three years, mainly cared for by her husband, but now suffers from dementia. This is the story about how Nigel got hold of local authority and NHS care and support.

"There are two kinds of care available. Depending on the criteria in which the patient falls, you may or may not be eligible for some level of continuing healthcare from the NHS based on medical needs, which is fully funded independent of means. There’s no financial assessment, it’s not means tested.

The other one is from social services and is based on the caring and support needs and it is means tested.

My father got terribly confused with those and there was nothing that spelt out this is what you may be eligible for. 

If anyone was living on their own and didn’t have the support of family and friends, it would be really difficult to know how and who to approach because there’s lots of digging around needed. Most of the information is available on the internet, but it’s not so readily available when you actually phone the social services. They don’t necessarily put you through to the right department or to the right people to talk to – that’s the experience Dad had.

Having the assessment

There was a delay in my mother’s assessment and I think it was due to workload. That’s the thing I’ve noticed several times when we were dealing with these people, they were all very caring and actually very efficient when they got things in their diary. It was just a question of other priorities coming in and moving the less critical cases out, so where they had a particular person who was at risk, they had to prioritise that and they have a massive workload.

We were told the financial assessment was done on 29th August. The finance people came out and saw my father and made a note his bank statements and assets. They then went off to make their calculations. I was told that it was going to go to the panel on 5th September, but it got bounced by a more needy case. It then went to the 12th and the panel approved it in principle, but because Mum at that point was no longer living in the London Borough of Bromley they said that if she were eligible, they would only pay the Croydon rate because it was lower than Bromley.

The panel approved the payment of the Croydon rate to the home on 16th October.

Nigel's advice

Get on the radar as early as you can so they can come and do the assessment. The first thing they will do is assess how they can maximise the amount of time you can stay in your own home, which is best for everyone actually. Every individual we have spoken to there has been incredibly caring, the majority of them have been quite overworked and that’s why there has been some of the delays, but they have always been looking for what is best for you as a resident and what care they can give you, what assistance they can give you.

"Get on the radar as early as you can so they can come and do the assessment."

All of the people we have dealt with also have made sure that, as far as possible, you – the individual – have been consulted and that you actually have the ultimate decision. They will present the options and try to help you as much as they can, but it’s your decision. They are not going to necessarily turn around and say you must be in a home.

Don’t be afraid to contact them, they are there to help you. Make a note in your diary when you ask something and follow up with them because very often there will be some progress made, but they haven’t had the time to communicate to you. Sometimes the communication will be: here is the decision, and the next step is actually up to the individual. Of course, if they don’t tell you that, you don’t know and it can drift on."

More information

  • Accessing NHS funding for care gives details for when the NHS might meet the cost of care for people who meet certain criteria.
  • Financing a care home: provides more information about funding options.
  • Dementia and other memory problems: find out more about the symptoms of dementia and how to cope with behavioural changes.

Page last reviewed: 23 June 2016
Next review due: 31 January 2018