Self-directed Support: A Guide for Carers

A guide for Carers who are looking after someone who gets support from the local council.

Option 2: individual budgets

This option is for people who do not want the responsibility of managing a direct payment but would still like to have some choice and control over the support they get.

The individual budget is worked out by the Council following the assessment. The Council then tell you how much money is available to spend, and you can then decide where you want to spend this money. The Council will make arrangements to pay the support provider that you choose.

The main difference from option 1 is that you don't physically receive the money and therefore there is less responsibility. You won't have to set up a separate bank account and in most cases you won't have to show how the money has been spent, because this will all have been agreed beforehand. You still have choice over your support provider and it is possible to have the same control and continuity as with a direct payment.

The Council will have a list of local providers in your area that you can choose from, but this list is unlikely to include every organisation in your area who can provide support. Local support organisations may also be able to give you information on other providers. There are also some online search engines that will let you search for support providers in your area.

Carers and option 2

Carers can help the person they look after to choose what kind of support they get, and they can also get support under option 2 in their own right.

Case Study 1

A carer wants to have a regular break from caring. The local authority provide her with a short-break voucher as a form of 'virtual break' which she uses to buy a short break that meets her outcomes from a support provider. The organisation providing the break is paid by the local authority, and the carer can use her own money to top-up the value of the voucher.

Case Study 2

A carer looks after her daughter who has been given a budget for personal care in the morning and evening. During the week when the carer has to get ready for work, the care workers come in to get her daughter ready for school. At the weekend, she is able to provide this personal care herself as she does not have to get ready for work. The money that is saved by not needing the care workers at the weekends can be used to buy something else from the agency, like help with housework or some help with shopping, so that the carer can spend more time with her daughter at the weekend.

Emily's Story

Emily looks after her father, Angus, who is getting older and more frail and needs a bit of help around the house. She does the more heavy-duty housework such as vacuuming and mowing the lawn, as well as going to the supermarket and running errands.

Angus has a stroke and is taken into hospital. He is in hospital for three weeks and during this time Emily has a carer's assessment, organised by the hospital discharge team and the social worker from the Council. It establishes that although Emily was able to support Angus before the hospitalisation, the care required when he leaves hospital will be more than she was doing before, including personal care, and she will need some support because of this. It is also not known how long the more substantial care will be needed for, as recovery following a stroke can be quite variable.

Emily will not be able to cope with this level of caring and uncertainty as she works full-time and has two teenage children. She does not want to provide personal care for Angus, and he would prefer to receive this kind of support from paid care workers. She is still able to visit regularly, and helps with the housework when she visits, as well as picking up shopping, running errands and supporting him when the occupational therapist and physiotherapist visit.

Angus has an assessment himself and is offered support from the local authority, and after talking with Emily about how the support will fit in with the care she can provide, he decides to take support through option 2, asking the Council to arrange support from a private care agency who can come and help him with showering, dressing and cooking at times that suit him. The care agency is flexible and will come along in the mornings and evenings to provide personal care and help with making meals. The care workers have shorter visits at weekends and on days when Emily is not at work, as she is able to help Angus with meals then and so the care workers only have to help him wash and dress.

A key safe is installed as well to make it easier for the care workers to access the property. It also means that other family members, such as Angus' other children and his grandchildren, can visit if Emily is not available.


Email: Heather Palmer

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