Personal Budgets were introduced in light of the 2014 Care Act; they are offered by councils to make sure an individual’s care needs are best met and allow those in need of care to have full control of the services they receive. Under this scheme your local authority or council will provide you with a ‘direct payment’ so that you can pay care providers directly. The money you receive will be based on a ‘needs assessment’ which takes into account the level of care required as well as any financial assets you may have.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of personal budgets?
The major, reassuring benefit of a personal budget is that it frees you to choose the care that you or your loved one needs and wants—just check that the care provider is CQC-registered and you’re good to go! You have the freedom to choose when you need care, and in some cases your carer, to make care fully personalised. If you feel that you need more care than what the local authority deemed necessary, you can top-up the budget from your personal funds. The personal budget scheme is great at allowing you to be more involved in choosing individualised care, improving independence and control over your own circumstances.
The one downside can be that you will have to organise care yourself, which can be complicated. However, choosing the right care provider will make the whole process simple, effective and set your mind at ease.
Choosing the right care provider
In the UK alone there are over 8,000 different care companies providing drastically different standards of care. There are however, a few clear indicators of really great care companies. Here are the things to look out for:
1) They use technology: you might not think this is important within a care setting, but it actually makes a big difference in improving the efficiency of those who are in the office, scheduling and arranging care visits for you. Traditionally, agencies operate using phone, pen and paper; this makes it difficult for clients to speak to the right person, scheduling becomes complicated and inefficient and increases problems with matching you to the right caregiver.
2) Caregivers should be carefully vetted, have comprehensive training and be well-paid for the difficult and emotionally straining work that they provide. Most care companies pay below the London Living Wage, which means that caregivers have to work extremely long hours to make a living and are then less effective at providing the high quality care that their clients need.
3) Excellent care agencies should be able to provide care that responds to your changing needs. Some companies only provide certain types of care such as live-in or hourly care, making it difficult for you if care needs change. Care agencies should provide everything from elderly care and household help, to post-discharge and palliative care.
4) Good care agencies will keep you fully informed regarding the care you receive and include you in every step of decision making. A good care provider should arrange an introductory visit where they discuss your care needs to ensure that your care plan is tailored to you. You should also be given access to this care plan, alongside care reports (that caregivers will complete after each visit) to monitor care delivery and its outcomes. With most care companies, getting access to these reports can be a lengthy process, as they are completed on paper and stored manually in the office. An excellent care provider should allow you easy access to reports that are updated in real time. Storing them digitally, as Cera does, improves accessibility and transparency for you as well as better security of your sensitive health information.
Before you start the search for either live-in care agencies or hourly, elderly home-care assistance, make sure to look for agencies that can provide both and offer a free, introductory care-assessment visit. Agencies like these, with specialist knowledge, will be able to help you advise you on the type of care and hours that you may need without obligation or commitment.
To arrange a free introductory visit from Cera please visit our website here or call us on 020 3034 4500, we would be happy to help.