What is NHS continuing healthcare?

NHS continuing healthcare is the name given to a package of care that is arranged and funded solely by the NHS for individuals who are not in hospital and have been assessed as having a "primary health need".

Where is NHS continuing healthcare provided?

If you are eligible, you can receive NHS continuing healthcare in a variety of settings, for example:

  • in your own home – the NHS will pay for healthcare, such as services from a community nurse or specialist therapist, and personal care, such as help with bathing, dressing and laundry
  • in a care home – as well as healthcare and personal care, the NHS will pay for your care home fees, including board and accommodation

NHS continuing healthcare is free, unlike social and community care services provided by local authorities. You may be charged for these depending on your income and savings.

Who is eligible for NHS continuing healthcare?

To be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare you must be over 18 and have  substantial and ongoing care needs. You must have been assessed as having a "primary health need", which means that your main or primary need for care must relate to your health. 

Eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare does not depend on:

  • a specific health condition, illness or diagnosis
  • who provides the care, or
  • where the care is provided

If you have a disability or if you've been diagnosed with a long-term illness or condition, this doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare.

To find out whether you are eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, your care needs will be assessed. For more information, see How will my eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare be assessed?

What if my care needs change?

Your eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare will be reviewed regularly. If your care needs change, the funding arrangements may also change. For more information, see When will my needs for continuing care be reviewed?

Read the answers to more questions about caring, carers and long-term conditions.

Further information:


Coping with a long-term condition: the care plan

In this video, find out how a care plan helps patients take control of their condition by setting out goals that cater to their individual needs.

Media last reviewed: 27/04/2015

Next review due: 27/01/2018

Page last reviewed: 29/04/2015

Next review due: 31/07/2017