A few months ago I started negotiating moving my care package from a Direct Payment to a Personal Health Budget. Previously my package received funding from both Adult Social Care and Continuing Healthcare as I qualified for both. The arrangement meant Adult Social Care took a payment (or “Section 72 transfer”) directly from CHC, in layman’s terms “shuffling money from one box into another”.
The arrangement was as unique then as it is now, as I’m actually the 20th person in the UK to be moved on to a Personal Health Budget. Leeds is one of the few areas piloting this new scheme, which aims to give people with long-term conditions and disabilities greater choice and control over the healthcare and support they receive.
I’ve always been happy with my Direct Payment as it has met my fundamental need – 24 hour care. Recently I’ve found myself needing more flexibility than it can afford and felt it needed updating across four key areas (click on each to expand for details):
In short they agreed with these requests above and took me through the new support plan. This was like chalk and cheese when you compare it with the Adult Social Care version, far more comprehensive.
The new hourly rate (for healthcare trained PAs) is a whopping £2.55 per hour higher than previously, which as you can imagine all of my current crop were eager to jump at the chance of swapping to. As a trade off they do have to complete training in a number of areas including an Online Induction; Hand Hygiene; Handling Medication; Moving and Handling Theory, Assessment and Practice and Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults. They also get paid to do that training. Funding now includes allocations for physio, DBS checks, advertising,insurance, protective equipment, even envelopes and stamps. So it will be interesting to see how this goes over the next year to see if I do indeed get any more flexibility and stability from it.
My initial meeting with the Leeds CIL independent living adviser was quite amusing. Being on their management board and actively involved in developing several of their products over the years, it tickled me when I was shown the new employment contract template as it looked incredibly similar (it was, they based it on mine!), as did several of the costing breakdowns [that I’d helped put together].
It’s possible that my positive experience this far may be due to a number of factors:
- I can argue eloquently enough for myself
- my position on the Leeds CIL Management Board
- my work with FreeToLiveLeeds and ongoing interactions with relatively highly placed Council staff etc.
- the fact that PHBs are still in their early stages of deployment
I’d like to think that if I can help highlight any process issues at this stage during the pilot and get PHBs working for me, then hopefully they should be able to work for just about anyone else. A near 40% increase in funding sounds like a lot (it is!), especially when you consider that my (now previous) package cost £6.5k per month. Despite the recent economic upturn we are all still under relative financial pressures, particularly for those with care needs accessing public sector services with ever-shrinking financial resources to meet current demand.
I don’t think I’ve asked for anything unreasonable or over the top, particularly given how little I’ve asked for over the years. One thing I didn’t include was getting help towards additional holiday costs (PA Flight tickets, equipment and transport). At least this will give me something to talk about with them next time though.