A DAUGHTER who fears she could be forced to sell her home to pay for her mum’s healthcare said she has been overwhelmed by generous donations to help her.
Shannon Neal of Sutton Courtenay was overcome with emotion when she discovered that a campaign set up by her best friend Gina Brown had passed its target of £1,000.
The 21-year-old – who has been looking after her paraplegic mum Nikki Lloyd, 53, since she was old enough to walk – said she feared she might have to sell their three-bedroom home to pay for her medical bills.
Ms Neal slammed Oxfordshire NHS services and the county council for not ensuring that her home would be protected.
After Ms Neal’s mother was hospitalised in October to be treated for a life-threatening complication, she was moved to a Headington care home where she now receives round-the-clock care.
Currently, Ms Lloyd’s stay at the nursing home is being paid for by the NHS body Continuing Healthcare Oxfordshire (CHC), however that funding will be reviewed in March this year – and cut potentially be cut.
That means that her daughter could be forced to pay the £1,275 per-week fee to cover the 24/7 nursing service at the care home, a sum she cannot afford.
When she contacted Oxfordshire County Council’s social services team about the financial pressure, she was told that if CHC did decide to stop the funding for any reason, the family home – which is in Ms Lloyd’s name – would have to be used to pay for her care.
The NHS has said the funding review in March is a standard procedure and there is no indication the funding will be cut, however Ms Neal also has no guarantee it will continue.
She said that she had already had to battle to get funding to assist her mother, who has been wheelchair-bound since a motorbike accident when she was 19.
Now, she said she feared facing an even bigger battle not to be left homeless.
Ms Neal said: “We really had to fight for this.
“First, they said my mother was not eligible because she is too independent.
“I then appealed and the CHC agreed to pay for the nursing care but not for the stay in the home.
“Then I appealed the decision again and eventually they agreed to pay for it.”
She added that if the CHC did withdraw the funding, social services would use the family house to cover the healthcare bills leaving the young woman without the home she grew up in.
This is because social services use a means test, which works out whether the council should pay towards care based on a person’s savings and assets.
Ms Neal said: “If we did not own the house, we would not have to pay for my mother’s care, it would be social services.
“I am absolutely gutted as that was my inheritance.
“I have also used my own money to renovate the house – I just spent £600 doing up the spare room.
“Having been a carer to my mother for years it is not fair that I do not have any rights.”
As next of kin, it would be up to Ms Neal to put the house on the market.
However, she would not be able to use the money from the sale to pay for accommodation for herself as it would be considered illegal.
Ms Neal, who works as a sales and finance officer during the day, studies accountancy in Abingdon College in the evenings.
She also visits her mother regularly, who requires a lot of physical and mental support, and looks after their dogs Ziggy and Bubbles.
She said: “I was told by social services to sit tight and wait because everything is hypothetical at the moment, but I need to be able to plan for what happens after the reassessment.
“It is a rubbish situation.”
After reading Ms Neal’s story on the Just Giving web page that has now passed £1,550, dozens of supporters sent her messages of support, made donations and gave her groceries.
Charity champion Val Prior who set up the Changing Lives charity in Didcot in 2012, even offered to pay for Ms Neal’s electricity and groceries.
She responded: “I hate asking for help but I am in a situation where I do not really have a choice.
“I really appreciate everyone’s help and support.”
A spokesperson for Oxford Health said: “Whilst Oxford Health cannot breach patient confidentiality, we can advise that all new cases of NHS Continuing Healthcare have to be reviewed within three months and then annually, as per national guidance.
“It is not reflective of individual circumstance and is national process.
“There is no age restriction on eligibility criteria.
“If the family have any concerns we would ask them to contact their locality Continuing Healthcare team to allay any fears.”
Deputy director for adult services at Oxfordshire County Council Karen Fuller confirmed that CHC funding was not means-tested and that a three-month review was part of its standard process.
Ms Fuller said: “Should there be a change in funding, Adult Social care would be able at that point work with Ms Lloyd and her family to discuss future options.”