Should you be getting a Personal Budget?
The government and local authorities are trying to personalise the way that we receive care and support services. This means that as a Service User, you get more control over the kind of care that you receive and you can decide how the money put aside for your care should be spent. This is usually done through a Personal Budget.
A Personal Budget is given to those who qualify for funding for care from their local authority, and can be given by way of a Direct Payment to purchase care services. You may also choose to give the money directly to a care service or allow the local authority to manage your budget for you.
While the care that you buy still needs to be approved by your local authority in line with your care plan, you are not limited in the services you can use and you can find the best people and companies to work with to suit your needs. It might be that you choose to spend the money on employing your very own paid carer, for example.
The Care Act, which came into force in April 2015, gives everyone the right to receive a Direct Payment if they are eligible for a Personal Budget to meet their care needs. There are a few exceptions, such as those people who do not have the mental capacity to request a Direct Payment or are prevented by law from receiving money in this way. For those who lack mental capacity, a nominated person can receive the Direct Payment instead.
Direct Payments cannot be used for long-term residential care, and they are mainly designed to help those with eligible care needs who wish to stay in their own home.
While this sounds like the perfect solution to receiving personalised care, it isn’t being taken up as widely as expected. This is partly due to a lack of information surrounding your right to ask for a Direct Payment. Age is also a factor – around 40% of under-65s receive a Direct Payment, which drops to just 16% of over-65s. A recent article for Community Care highlights a common situation where local authorities believe that Direct Payments “don’t work” for older people, while outlining the story of a family where it turned out to be the right move.
We believe that the key point here is to ensure that you are aware of what is available to you, including the right to a Personal Budget and Direct Payment. This means that you can make an informed decision on your care and how involved you want to be in the way the money allocated to you is spent.