We need to talk about money for care.
Now, before you’re taken over by a stereotypically British reluctance to discuss finances in public or just an exhaustion from feeling like all we do lately is think about the financial state of the social care sector; bear with us on this one. We all know the service providers within care are massively underfunded and the quality or quantity of service that care workers can provide is at risk. However, this time we need to think about a different aspect of things: personal budgets and what they entail.
A personal budget is an amount of money that the council provide you if they decide you’re eligible for this level of monetary support. The amount is dependent on how much the care needed costs in your local area, tailoring each personal budget on the situation. This money will be under the individuals control and must now legally be incorporated into every care and support plan. The “local authority must provide personal budgets to whoever meets the regulations in the Act”, showing a new level of legal support for the personalisation of care in the UK.
Personal budgets have been pushed forward in recent years by the Care Act of 2014 declaring that “everyone with an eligible need for social care should be given one”. While personal budgets have been available to some lucky eligible people for a few years, the Care Act sets the precedent that all people who need support, get it. The fact that the control of the money is kept by the person needing care or support helps maintain a level of control over their own lives – something that can feel very important when your body or mind needs external support.
So, what is the process to get a personal budget? The way it works is if you appear to need care and support, regardless of your finances, your local authority have to complete a ‘needs assessment’ so that they can understand the whole story of your needs and outcomes. Your eligibility will then be compared against a national minimum threshold, and if you’re found to be eligible then your personal budget will be calculated.
This may all be sounding like a step in the right direction – helping families and communities support those who need care but can’t afford it themselves – but we must be cautious. As the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman recently noticed, Wiltshire Council were placing people into bands, capping the personal budget certain people received irrelevant of the level of care needed. This thereby restricted the care people could access, which seems counterproductive to the whole idea of a personal budget. Additionally, a Community Care survey found that the personalisation promised is not something that is happening in real life. Councils were found to be stopping people from spending their personal budgets (which they should have full control over) how they wanted, especially in cases of building quality of life through activities such as university courses, trips, holidays, gardening and more.
We’d love to say we’re surprised that administrative changes haven’t had the impact promised within the care sector, but let’s be honest here – we all know more drastic approaches are needed to truly help both sides of social care. Personal budgets are a great idea in theory, but in order to make them work better in practice, the government as a collective needs to make a conscious effort to provide legal structural support for those in care, while enforcing those who find loopholes in regulations or bend the rules at the cost of patients.
Work & Care Together 2018 – A Social Work and Care Professionals Convention – 11th June
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We are organising a convention, “Work & Care Together: Recruitment, Development and Innovation in 2018”, to bring together the key players in the social work and care industry for a day of networking and training.
The event will take place on Monday 11th June 2018 at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel, and will have 3 elements to it: a series of training sessions, presentations from new innovative front-line services in social work/care and an exhibition of resource companies, training providers and key services. “Work & Care Together” will be targeted directly at those working in social work and care – as well as students and businesses – to focus on the current issues of recruitment, retention and employee development in the industry, while also showcasing innovative businesses.
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