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NHS continuing healthcare

NHS continuing healthcare is care arranged and funded by the NHS outside of hospital for people who have ongoing healthcare needs. This is usually because they have a complex medical condition that requires a lot of care and support, or because they need highly specialised nursing support.

You can receive continuing healthcare in your own home or a care home. It is free of charge and you will not be asked to pay. 

If in your own home, the NHS will pay for healthcare (for example, services from a community nurse or specialist therapist) and personal care (for example, help with bathing, dressing and laundry). In a care home, the NHS also pays for your care home fees, including food and accommodation.

Anyone over 18 years old assessed as having a certain level of care needs may receive NHS continuing healthcare. It is not dependent on a particular disease, diagnosis or condition, nor on who provides the care or where that care is provided.

If you are receiving an assessment for care from your local council whilst you are in hospital or in your own home, then your eligibility for continuing healthcare will be assessed if your needs appear to be high enough; health and social care staff will use a standard checklist to see decide whether the continuing healthcare assessment will be required.

The continuing healthcare assessment will be carried out jointly by a health professional such as a nurse and a social worker from the council. The views of other professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and doctors who have been involved in your care will also be taken into account to ensure that the assessment gives a full picture of your situation.

The assessment looks at all your care needs and relates them to four factors:

  • nature - this is how your particular needs affect you, including the type of help you need
  • complexity - this is about how your health needs affect each other and the level of skill required to manage them
  • intensity - this is the extent and severity of your needs and the support needed to meet them
  • unpredictability - this is about how hard it is to predict changes in your needs that might create challenges in managing them

For more detailed information on the NHS continuing healthcare assessment have a look at the NHS leaflet on continuing care.

If eligible, your care will be funded by the NHS. Your care needs will be reviewed from time to time to make sure that NHS continuing healthcare is still appropriate for you - if your care needs have changed then the funding arrangements may also change.

This is different to NHS continuing healthcare. NHS-funded nursing care applies if you live in a care home and are not eligible for continuing care but you do need nursing care. The NHS will pay a certain amount towards the cost of your care home, even if you are paying all the other costs yourself. The NHS pays the home directly. 

Have a look at our page on Paying for a care home for more information on how NHS-funded nursing care fits in with other payment arrangements for care homes, or go direct to the NHS website. There is also an NHS leaflet which covers this topic.

Last updated: 29/11/2022