This is such a huge subject, but I want to share some basic information that might help you navigate the system. I’m not going to be able to cover everything, but I will give you a quick overview and a summary of how it works. Nothing to do with funding, that’s a whole different topic that will also require an explanation.
There are so many elements to the NHS and the care system. In effect, a wide range of organisations offering different types of medical services. The first thing to do is break these down into manageable chunks so you can understand a bit more about what each of them does.
The front-line is Primary Care
For most people, this is their first point of contact for any physical or mental health issues. These tend to be non-urgent cases. The sort of services you would encounter here is your doctor (GP) and pharmacist. You can make appointments with your local doctor’s practice and visit the chemist to collect prescriptions. Most of us only deal with Primary Care services in this context and we’re comfortable with the relationship.
Your health is managed on a local basis with your doctor’s practice looking to solve any problems you have. But sometimes you need specialist treatment or a further investigation. This is the point at which they will refer you to another healthcare provider, probably the local hospital or community practice.
There will be occasions when you need to call on the emergency services. This will be the Accident and Emergency Department of a hospital. The usual way you access this service is by calling 999, ringing your doctors or telephoning NHS 111 to get an initial assessment. The hospital will give you access to a range of specialists, surgical and emergency care.
Community-based care and Local Authorities
This tends to be care based around a longer-term condition. Someone who is living with a mild or moderate condition and needs more support. In these situations, it’s important to maintain as normal a routine as possible, to be able to stay close to family and friends.
You may hear about Local Authorities being involved in your care options. They are focused on encouraging activities that will improve the local health situation. Working to present a more joined-up approach with the NHS, public health, social care and other services. Which all sounds very good in practice, the truth is there is no integrated approach. Communication is the key here, but it will often breakdown.
The services around Social Care
Social Care is managed under the Local Authority which makes this a very challenging area. It’s the sort of care that provides services and support to help people maintain their independence and wellbeing. Protecting those more vulnerable in our society to ensure they are being supported in the community and allowing them the opportunity to continue contributing.
People with care needs will be directed to Social Care. You would hope that it worked as an overarching department but unfortunately, it doesn’t. What you will find are separate, independent, privately-owned companies competing for home care and care home business. You can access NHS funding for care, but it is means-tested. So, if you have savings of over £23,250 then you will have to pay for the services yourself.
Information is not always clear and transparent which is where Age Care Advice can be a real bonus for many people. As I always say, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’. In our experience, the system does not make it easy for you to get the information or help you need.
We have helped many customers and I thought you might like to read what they have said about how we have supported them.
“I think the service you offer is great. You helped us when we needed assistance with my father in law as we got to a point where we didn’t’ know which way to turn as the system wasn’t helping us back then. It is a horrible position to be in…” Son-in-law
“… supported two of my family members in difficult circumstances and did so with both acumen and warmth. Dealing with such a situation is confusing and challenging, and it’s a tremendous relief to have help from people who know the system – and who are so available to talk about it at any time.” Family member
Just having a conversation with someone who understands the system can be a huge weight off your mind. If you don’t know the right questions to ask or what you are entitled to it can be a very frustrating time. Experience in dealing with our customers has taught us this.
Ensuring everyone remains safe
Safeguarding of patients is a really important area and something you need to know about. Some of the organisations that provide NHS services and Social Care will be ‘regulated’ which means there are certain standards they need to meet. You may have heard of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This body will conduct inspections to establish if these quality standards are being met.
Providers of health and social care are subject to inspections by the CQC. They will look at safety and the quality of care being given. The CQC will conduct their inspections, unannounced, but also gather information from the care provider, patients, staff and any other related organisations.
The whole process is very transparent with their findings published on the CQC website. So, if you are looking for care and are unsure, their website is a good place to start. You will see an unbiased view from an independent body which means it’s better to investigate the options before booking any visits or meetings.
What has been your experience of the care system, if you have more questions than answers why not get in touch with us today?