Why do I need to know about Personal Health Budgets now?
From April 2014 people who qualify for fully-funded NHS Continuing Health Care have the right to ask for a Personal Health Budget. As with so many reforms in the NHS, Personal Health Budgets have been met with a divided reaction.
So what is a Personal Budget, who qualifies, and how can they claim? Anne-Marie Mason, Director at Health Your Way, an organisation providing support services around Personal Health Budgets, explains.
In England the NHS currently offers us a level of choice in how we access support, such as being able to choose our GP surgery and electing which hospital we might attend for an operation. In 2009, the NHS took further steps to personalise the care and support it delivers and initiated a three-year pilot of Personal Health Budgets.
If your parent already receives support from their local council through social services or social care, you may well already have heard the term “personalisation”. The term basically means working out what care and support will work for your parent and you, giving you full choice and control over these decisions.
As a result your parent may already be receiving a “Direct Payment” or “Personal Budget”, which is an amount of money that is allocated to an individual based on their social care needs. You or your parent may also be required to make a contribution to the cost of their care as social care funding is means-tested.
What is a Personal Health Budget?
A personal health budget is an amount of money that is allocated to your parent based on their health and wellbeing needs to enable them to have greater choice and control over the care and support that they need.
From April 2014 anyone eligible for fully-funded NHS Continuing Health Care has the right to ask for a personal health budget. From October 2014, they will have the right to have a personal health budget.
A personal health budget is much more than just a pot of money. It is you and your parent’s opportunity to have your say about what you feel would work best for you as a family. The support your parent needs will be captured in a care or support plan which will ask for information including what they need, who will provide the care and support and how their budget will be managed.
Your parent or a family member should ideally complete the support plan with input from a clinician, such as a nurse. The support plan will be shared with your parent’s local NHS team who will decide whether or not the support plan meets your parent’s needs.
You may think that this sounds a bit daunting, but you don’t have to make all these decisions on your own. The healthcare professionals involved in your parent’s care will advise you on what your parent’s needs are.
If you feel in need of further help there are specialist support organisations, such as Health Your Way, that will guide you through the process of getting and managing a personal health budget and help you with things like completing your support plan and understanding the options available to you.
Below are just some of the questions that we are often asked.
How do we apply for a budget?
If your parent wishes to apply for a personal health budget they can contact their GP, their local Clinical Commissioning Group or their local Continuing Health Care team.
How much will the budget be?
The amount of money your parent receives will depend on their health and wellbeing needs and the goals that they hope to achieve, such as “maintaining their independence”. Your parent’s local NHS team should provide you with an estimated budget to help you and your parent plan their care and support.
What can the budget be spent on?
There are many ways your parent can choose to use the budget to meet their individual needs. For example they could be supported to:
- Employ their own Personal Assistant
Your parent’s Personal Assistant/s will deliver care and support, based on the job description that you and your parent design. This could include, providing your parent with personal care support, assisting with day-to-day living and healthcare tasks. Everyone’s needs are different and a Personal Assistant will support your parent to be as independent as possible.
- Pay for care agency services
- Access a variety of therapies
- Buy equipment
As long as the care and support your parent chooses meets their agreed outcomes, the choice really is theirs!
Is there anything my parent can’t use the money for?
There are very few restrictions of what you can and cannot use a personal health budget to pay for. The list below details what is excluded:
- Anything illegal
- Debt repayment
- Primary care services, such as GP services or Accident and Emergency. These services will always be available to your parent regardless of whether they have a personal health budget.
How can a personal health budget be managed?
There are a number of ways you or your parent can manage the budget and you should choose the option that you feel is right for you both.
1. Direct Payment
A direct payment is a cash payment that is paid into a bank account in your parent’s name - or your name if you are acting as their representative - to enable them to buy the care and support that they need.
2. Third Party
The term “third party” refers to organisations that can manage the administration of the payments or an organisation that will manage all aspects of your parent’s budget including providing your parent’s care and support.
3. Notional Budget
This is where the NHS (usually a Continuing Health Care Nurse) will inform you and your parent about how much money there is to spend on their care and support. They will discuss with you what your parent’s needs are and arrange the care and support on their behalf.
Does my parent have to have a personal health budget?
No, a personal health budget is voluntary – it is you and your parent’s choice.
If your parent prefers, they can choose to have some of their support through a personal health budget and also receive “traditional” services to meet their needs. Having a personal health budget comes with some responsibility and how much control you or your parent wish to take is up to you.
For more information about personal health budgets and the support services available please visit Health Your Way’s website or call 0800 644 6414.
To find out how personal budgets are already being used take a look at the report from Lancaster University. Research suggests these budgets are having a positive effect.
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