Continuing healthcare

Some people with long-term complex health needs can receive free social care arranged and funded by the NHS instead of being funded by the council. This is known as NHS continuing healthcare or CHC.

Before you turn 18, you may be receiving a continuing care package from the NHS. This works in a similar way to CHC but there is a difference in how needs are assessed. This means that just because you are receiving a continuing care package as a child, it does not mean you will automatically receive CHC as an adult.

If you have additional needs caused by a long- term health condition, you may qualify for CHC. This means that the NHS will be responsible for arranging your care. And your care will be fully funded by the NHS. This means that the local authority will not fund your care and that you will not be asked to contribute towards the cost of your care.

How does it work?

To receive NHS continuing healthcare, you must be assessed by a team of healthcare professionals (a multidisciplinary team). First, a nurse, doctor, other healthcare professional or social worker will complete an initial checklist assessment. This checklist decides whether you meet the criteria for a full CHC assessment.

A multidisciplinary team (MDT) then undertake a full assessment. The team is made up of a minimum of two professionals from different healthcare professions. The MDT should usually include both health and social care professionals who are already involved in your care. The team will look at all your care needs and relate them to:

  • what help you need
  • how complex your needs are
  • how intense your needs can be
  • how unpredictable your needs are, including any risks to your health if the right care isn't provided at the right time.

You should be fully involved in the assessment process, kept informed throughout and have your views about your needs and support considered.  Carers and family members should also be consulted where appropriate.

When should this happen?

NHS continuing healthcare is for adults so you can only receive CHC when over the age of 18. Where it is likely that you will need continuing healthcare as an adult, children’s health services should make the relevant people aware from age 14.  A formal referral for an initial checklist assessment should take place when you are 16 and a full assessment should be completed as soon as is practical after your 17th birthday.  A package of care should be ready in time for your 18th birthday.

The role of parents and carers

Parents should support you through this process. Carers and family members should also be consulted where appropriate.