Tracy Ashby of Thursfields Solicitors has praised a TV investigation for highlighting how families are missing out on care funding entitlements for aging relatives.
Channel 4’s Dispatches programme on 20 November, entitled ‘How to Avoid the Dementia Tax’, investigated how some sufferers faced selling their homes to pay for care, while others gained access to NHS funds.The programme also cautioned people against unregulated companies who might be offering misleading or incomplete advice.
Tracy said: “What Dispatches revealed was the disturbing news that poor advice is needlessly costing families thousands of pounds. On care funding itself, there is a lack of information available and assessments can be carried out subjectively, with marked differences as to how the national assessment framework is followed at a local level. The result is that many are told they aren’t or wouldn’t possibly be eligible for NHS funding when, in reality, they should be.
If a person requires care primarily for health reasons, the NHS may – subject to them meeting the eligibility criteria – fund all of that care. But often the assessments to identify whether this funding may apply aren’t routinely carried out at all. And while appeals can be made retrospectively, deadlines can apply so action and advice should be taken as soon as possible.”
Tracy said families needed qualified help because of the lack of awareness and advice available in respect of social care funding and the use of trusts.
She said: “The programme highlighted instances where it was said that companies had attempted to sell trusts inappropriately, or had provided misleading or incomplete advice. Where such companies are unregulated, in instances where trust arrangements are not successful, recourse against the companies in question may be difficult. Therefore, the importance of taking advice from regulated individuals, such as solicitors, shouldn’t be underestimated.”
She added that Thursfields is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to provide tailored advice, including appropriate and effective planning for care funding applications and trusts.
Tracy herself is a full member of Solicitors for the Elderly, whose members appeared as experts on the Dispatches programme, and she has provided advice for many years on care funding and various types of estate planning.
She added: “I was impressed with the Dispatches investigation because it will hopefully prompt families facing increasing cases of dementia to make sure they are getting the best, approved advice for what can be complex, expensive care for loved ones.”
For further information, please contact: Tracy Ashby, Senior Associate Solicitor, on 0121 647 5269 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org