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Health and social care rights

Explains your rights to health and social care for your mental health. Includes information on eligibility for social care and how local authorities may meet your needs.

What's continuing healthcare (CHC)?

Continuing healthcare (CHC) is a package of care for people who aren't in hospital and have been assessed as having a 'primary health need'. You don't have to pay for CHC – it's arranged and paid for by the NHS. But it’s not common for people to receive CHC if they only have mental health problems, as opposed to physical health needs.

CHC can be provided in your own home. The NHS might pay for community nurses or specialist therapists to treat you at home. Or give you support with things such as bathing, dressing and doing the laundry. CHC may also be provided in a care home, with the NHS paying for your care home fees and providing other services like nursing.

Who qualifies for CHC?

To be eligible for CHC you must:

  • Be over 18
  • Be assessed as having a 'primary health need' – this means that your main need must relate to your health
  • Have substantial and ongoing care needs

Visit these websites for more information on: 

Can I be eligible for CHC and section 117 aftercare at the same time?

Some people who have been kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act can get free help and support after they leave hospital. The law that gives this right is section 117 of the Mental Health Act. It’s often referred to as 'section 117 aftercare'. Aftercare can cover healthcare and social care. To find out more, see our pages on Section 117 aftercare.

You won't need to be assessed for Continuing Healthcare if all your needs are being met under Section 117 aftercare. But if you have additional needs which are not being met under section 117, you may also be eligible for Continuing Healthcare. For example, needs that aren’t related to your mental health.


Alice experiences anxiety and paranoia. She's receiving support with accessing the community as part of her section 117 funded package of care. Alice had a serious accident and her physical injuries make her much less mobile. She needs nursing care for her condition and can only access the community in a wheelchair.

Alice's anxiety and paranoia make it difficult for her to access the community, even with her wheelchair. She's classed as eligible for CHC. Her nursing and assistance care is paid for by CHC, but accessing the community to improve her mental health is still paid for under s117. This is because it meets a need that relates to her mental health.

This information was published in February 2023. We will revise it in 2026. 

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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