What is ‘complex care’?

28 January 2022

Male sat in a wheelchair in a care home

‘Complex care’ is specialist support for somebody who’s living with one or more chronic or long-term health conditions or disabilities.

People who receive ‘complex care’ typically have a neuro-disability or neurological disorder such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, acquired brain injury or complex dementia, have experienced a spinal injury, or are living with a physical disability, learning disability or autism.

Complex care is different to other types of care because it usually involves specialist clinical or medical intervention, from highly trained teams.

People who have complex care needs might also need nursing care, such as a PEG feeding tube, a ventilator or a Hickman line.

Care homes that specialise in complex care will often have in-house teams of trained Registered Nurses and Health Care Assistants, as well as access to other support roles such as Physiotherapists, Life Skills Coordinators and Behaviour Support Specialists.

These colleagues will be trained to specialise in the specific conditions of the people they support.

The aim of complex care is to provide person-centred care that’s centred on an individual’s holistic needs. The care enables them to maximise their independence and live their best life.

Complex care is sometimes referred to as long-term care or continuing care.

Who provides complex care?

The NHS is the primary provider of complex healthcare in the UK.

When someone’s finished hospital treatment, they might move into a nursing home that specialises in supporting people living with complex needs.

Exemplar Health Care is a leading provider of specialist nursing care in England.

We care for some of the most complex and acute individuals, who would often be in a hospital setting if not placed with us. This enables them to receive the specialist care they need in a community-based home that’s closer to family and friends. 

Who might need complex care?

People can have or develop complex care needs for a number of reasons. They may arise as the result of a chronic or long-term health condition, a progressive illness, a disability or a serious accident or injury.

Exemplar Health Care supports adults living with a range of complex and high acuity needs arising from:

People living with these conditions, disabilities and illnesses might have specialist nursing care needs, including:


Complex care with Exemplar Health Care

Our care focuses on supporting people to maximize their independence, build their everyday living skills and live their best life! 

Our homes support people on their journey from being in hospital or living in a secure setting to community-based living. We also offer long-term nursing care for people living with degenerative or life-limiting illnesses.

Our approach is personalised to the people that we support. We work with them, their loved ones and professionals to design a care plan that’s tailored to their needs and goals.

Our high staffing levels of Registered Nurses and trained Health Care Assistants are determined by each person’s individual needs.

This enables us to work at their own pace and build trust, which leads to improved person-centred and longer-term outcomes. 

Funding for complex care

People with ongoing signification health needs, which are complex and/or severe, may be eligible to have their care paid for through a scheme called NHS Continuing Healthcare.

To be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, you need to be assessed by your local Integrated Care Board (ICB), as your primary need bring health related.

If you aren’t eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, you can seek funding through your local authority.

The majority of people who live in an Exemplar Health Care home have their care paid for through NHS Continuing Healthcare or joint funded with the local authority.

How can I arrange complex care?

The first step is to speak to your GP or local social services team.

A Nurse or Social Worker will visit you to do an initial assessment and decide if you need a full NHS Continuing Healthcare Assessment.

If you’re referred for a full assessment, they’ll gather information from a range of professionals about your medical, physical, mental health and social care needs, and send it to the ICB that’s responsible for funding care in your area.

The ICB will confirm its decision in writing and will help you to find the right care package that meets your needs. This could be care in a local nursing home or domiciliary care in your home.

Your ICB or local authority should always involve you in the assessment process, and take your views into consideration when finding a suitable care home.

If it’s agreed that a care home is the best option, you should be provided with a choice of homes that have the suitable facilities, experience and specialist teams to meet your relative’s needs.

It’s important to remember that, even if you are granted financial assistance, you do not have to choose the care home that’s suggested.

Get in touch

If you’d like to find out more about a complex care placement for you or a loved one, please get in touch with our Referrals Team.

They can help you to find the right home for you, which has the right team to meet your complex needs.

We have specialist care homes across England.