We are all aware of the ongoing drive towards more personalised health and social care services. The idea is that those of us who need care and support should have greater control and freedom to decide for ourselves how our needs are met.
The first step in gaining this control, once your needs have been assessed, is to arrive at a personal budget. This is the amount that a local authority or the NHS thinks is reasonable to pay to meet your needs. Once this has been agreed, you can then decide how much control you want over the day to day arrangements.
So far, so good. However, many of the people we represent encounter problems, including:
- Not being given enough information to decide if this approach is right for them
- Being refused a personal budget
- Having the budget cut
- Concerns that the level of personal budget is not enough to meet their needs
We can help
Here at Moore & Tibbits we have a specialist Health and Community Care Team who can advise and represent you about all issues concerning personal budgets, direct payments and personal health budgets. It is often the case that disputes in this area involve questions around how your needs have been assessed, alongside your own finances. We can provide up to date advice in these area as well as the impact such assessments have on your proposed funding.
Personal Budgets, health budgets and direct payments…a brief guide
A personal budget is the amount a local authority or the NHS thinks is appropriate to meet your eligible health, care and support needs. However you choose to have your care arranged, either by getting the local authority or NHS to do it or doing it yourself there will be a personal budget allocated to you to meet your needs.
If you decide to take control yourself (or someone does so on your behalf) your personal budget is ‘converted’ into either a personal health budget, if you are funded by the NHS, or a direct payment if your support is provided through your local authority.
Personal health budgets via the NHS are now available for those whose care is funded under NHS continuing healthcare and can be particularly useful for those who receive continuing healthcare funding whilst living in their own home.
Local Authorities have been offering direct payments for much longer. They can be ‘mixed’ with care provision that is organised by the local authority, and they can also be offered to carers.
There are of course rules about how the money is spent, and the records that you need to keep, so this approach isn’t right for everyone. However, they are an excellent way of providing flexibility and enabling people to find creative solutions to meet their needs and retain their independence.
Joan had been assessed by her local authority as eligible for financial support from them to meet her care needs. Joan wanted the flexibility of a direct payment so that she could adjust her care to take account of her variable needs as no two weeks are the same for her.
Joan got into dispute with the local authority regarding the amount allocated to her personal budget. We worked with her care provider to collate evidence to enable her to challenge this, leading to an increase in funds and a referral for an assessment of eligibility for NHS continuing healthcare funding.