Home > My health > Continuing Health Care

Continuing Health Care

Care outside of hospital that is arranged and funded by the NHS.

What is NHS continuing healthcare?

NHS continuing healthcare, also known as “fully funded NHS care”, is free care outside of hospital that is arranged and funded by the NHS. This means that you will receive care and support to meet your assessed needs at no cost to you.

Where can NHS continuing healthcare be provided?

NHS continuing healthcare can be provided in a variety of settings outside hospital, such as in your home or in a registered care home.

If you are found to be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare in your own home, this means that the NHS will pay for healthcare (e.g. services from a community nurse or specialist therapist) and associated social care needs (e.g. personal care and domestic tasks, help with bathing, dressing, food preparation and shopping). In a care home, the NHS also pays for your care home fees, including board and accommodation.

Who is eligible for NHS continuing healthcare?

Anyone over 18 years of age assessed as having a certain level of care needs may be entitled to NHS continuing healthcare. You must be assessed by a team of healthcare professionals (a “multidisciplinary team”) as having a “primary health need”. Whether or not someone has a primary health need is assessed by looking at all their care needs and relating them to:

  • what help is needed
  • how complex these needs are
  • how intense or severe these needs can be
  • how unpredictable they are, including any risks to the person’s health if the right care isn’t provided at the right time

Your eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare depends on your assessed needs, and not on any particular diagnosis or condition. If your needs change then your eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare may change.

NHS continuing healthcare assessments

For most people, there is an initial checklist assessment, which is used to decide if you need a full assessment. However, if you need care urgently – for example, if you’re terminally ill – your assessment may be fast-tracked.

The initial checklist assessment can be completed by a nurse, doctor, other healthcare professional or social worker. You should be told that you’re being assessed, and be asked for your consent.

There is further information on continuing healthcare on the NHS Choices website.

What about continuing healthcare for children?

NHS continuing healthcare is for adults. Children and young people may receive a “continuing care package” if they have needs arising from disability, accident or illness that can’t be met by existing universal or specialist services alone.

Find out more about the children and young people’s continuing care national framework.

NHS-funded nursing care

By law, local authorities cannot provide registered nursing care. For individuals in care homes with nursing, registered nurses are usually employed by the care home itself and, in order to fund this nursing care, the NHS makes a payment direct to the care home. This is called ‘NHS-funded nursing care’ and is a standard rate contribution towards the cost of providing registered nursing care for those individuals who are eligible.

Registered nursing care can involve many different aspects of care. It can include direct nursing tasks as well as the planning, supervision and monitoring of nursing and healthcare tasks to meet your needs.

Who is eligible for NHS-funded nursing care?

You should receive NHS-funded nursing care if:

  • you are resident within a care home that is registered to provide nursing care; and
  • you do not qualify for NHS continuing healthcare but have been assessed as requiring the services of a registered nurse

There is further information on NHS-funded nursing care on the NHS Choices website.

Further information on Continuing Healthcare

NHS Continuing Healthcare leaflet

NHS Continuing Healthcare leaflet: easy-read version for people with a learning disability

Beacon Independent Advice Service:   Introductory leaflet           Detailed leaflet             Website

You may also find useful:

Personal Health Budgets

Care and Support for Adults