Personal budgets for social care
Introduced by the government, personal budgets give you the choice to decide what kind of support you need to improve your quality of life and live as independently as possible.
What a personal budget means for you:
*Getting the right kind of support, when you need it, and
*Getting the help you need quickly and in a way that fits into your lifestyle.
Once you have chosen the support you need, you pay for it using money from your personal budget, which is allocated to you by the Council.
How it’s different to traditional ways of receiving services
Previously, if you were eligible to receive social care services from the Council, your social worker would have arranged your support (called a ‘care package’). This may have included a visit to a day centre, transport to the centre, home care and meals-on-wheels.
By offering you a personal budget, you now have much more choice and control over how you live your life. You may, for example, want to attend college, go swimming or go to the cinema instead of going to a day centre. You can still choose the traditional methods of support, but the important thing is that now with a personal budget the choice is yours, as long as it is used to support your social care needs.
How it Works
The Council will carry out an assessment of your needs to decide whether or not you are eligible to receive social care services, using the government’s ‘Fair Access to Care Services’ guidelines to help work out your eligibility.
If your needs are assessed as either ‘critical’ or ‘substantial’, you will be offered a personal budget. The assessment will help to determine how much your budget will be, based on your assessed needs.
Your social worker will tell you how much your personal budget is going to be, based on the information you have given in your assessment. Most local Council’s operate a ‘charging policy’ and this is used to work out the amount (if any) you have to contribute towards the support you receive. This will all depend on your income and savings.
The next step is to write your care support plan. You can:
* Ask your social worker, a friend, relative, a support broker or someone else to help you to produce it.Your support plan will give details of:
*What’s important to you
* What you want to change or achieve in your life (your outcomes)
* How you will be supported
* How you will use your personal budget
*How your support will be managed
* How you will stay in control of your life
*Any contingency plans you have in place, in case something unexpected happens.
Your social worker will then ask a social care team manager to approve it.
What you can Spend the money on
Many people will still spend their budget on traditional methods of social care, like attending a day centre or receiving support at home to help them get up, get washed and dressed. Lots of people have personal assistants to help them to do the things they want to do, such as going to the gym, walking the dog or visiting the shops.
What you can′t Spend the money on
Your budget must not be used in any way which will harm your health, safety or wellbeing, or purposely used for an illegal act. It also can’t be used to buy goods or services which would normally be provided by another statutory organisation, such as health or housing without full agreement from the Council.
Personal budgets must be agreed by the Council and only used to support you with your care needs. Personal budgets cannot be used to pay for residential or nursing care.
How you Will receive your Personal Budget
You can ask your social worker or support broker to arrange services on your behalf using the money allocated to you from your personal budget. This means that they will manage the budget for you.
If this does not suit you, you can have the cash to arrange your own services (this will then be known as a ‘direct payment’) which will be paid into a nominated bank account.
Alternatively, you can ask your social worker to arrange some of your services and have a direct payment to arrange some of your own services. For example, you may enjoy going to a day centre but want to employ a personal assistant to help you to get up later in the morning, or go to bed later at night.