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Driving the uptake of Self-Directed Care in our communities

It’s not just about giving people a personal budget, personal health budget or integrated personal budget - giving them the right tools and support to ensure they can manage that budget is crucial. With so many factors to consider, this is not always easy and can have an impact on the number of people deciding to self-direct their own care and support.

Based on this graph, which takes us up to March this year, we can see that uptake of personal health budgets has significantly decreased. Due to the pandemic, this is likely to be an under-estimate because of lack of accurate recording and difficulty in the provision of services and Personal Assistants which may also have affected the number of PHB referrals.

Looking towards the future however, ways of increasing the take up, service delivery and budget management of personal health budgets and direct payments is more achievable when using digital tools specifically designed to make self-directed care and support easier.

Being able to deliver care and support services for citizens, and monitor and report on activity via accurate data and analytics, is fundamental to having insight and control over individual and large-scale budgets. Digital solutions provide all of this and are the way forward! 

The challenge

An element of risk is involved with giving people money and letting them manage their own care and support. It’s important therefore that professionals in health and social care have insight, visibility, and real-time data, which acts as a ‘safety net’ that can provide re-assurance, and an awareness of what is happening with the people under their care.

Understandably, professionals may be concerned about how budgets are managed and whether people are accessing the right care and support. There may be concerns around:

  • Is an individual who chooses a direct payment going to be able to cope?
  • Will they be able to build the right support network around them and recruit the right people (Personal Assistants)? Will they be an adequate legal employer?
  • Can they easily be able to access services, products and equipment?
  • Can they manage the budget and pay providers?
  • Will they have to pay organisations such as Direct Payment Support Services to help them? Will this be costly and eat into their budgets?

The digital solution

What if people on direct payments had a virtual bank account, easy access to services via an e-marketplace, a payroll function to ensure PAs are paid in a timely manner, and automatic payments to providers all in one place?  Wouldn't that make life easier for the person needing support and less costly as they aren’t as reliant on using direct payments support services?

For funding bodies such as Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups, who manage budgets and source services on a person’s behalf (managed/notional budgets), using outdated and inefficient systems and processes may also be a barrier to providing choice and flexibility to people. Using spreadsheets, making phone calls, and emailing providers is time-consuming and costly.  

I was speaking to a senior Staff member at a local authority recently. It takes a team of six people twice a year to ‘claw back’ unused funds and it takes them two months each time to do so – that’s four months a year spent trying to get back unused funds! In some cases, this can be a sensitive and delicate process, which makes situations difficult for the Staff teams responsible and the people they are trying to ‘claw back’ from (sometimes the parents of vulnerable children).

And what if CCGs and Local Authorities have true visibility, with real-time robust reporting on all transactions and so that they can check that people are getting the right care and support. Wouldn’t that also help with auditing, spotting suspicious activity, claw-backs etc.?

Insufficient numbers of Personal Assistants in localities can also be a barrier to people choosing self-direction – PA Recruitment Tool is an online, web-based platform that can help. Different in many ways to existing and sometimes out-of-date PA Directories, this provides information, advice and guidance, training logs, CV building, employment contract templates and a two way means of communication between people looking for the right PAs and potential PAs. Could this be a real help in turbo charging self-directed care in your communities?

So, just to re-cap, it’s not just about giving people a personal budget, personal health budget or integrated personal budget, it’s about giving them the right tools and support to ensure they can manage that budget effectively.

This is where having digital on-line support tools such as Virtual Wallet and PA Recruitment Tool, that are interactive and can be used by individual budget holders, professionals and providers, is a no-brainer!

For further information on how we can help the delivery of personalised care in your region, contact us using the link below:-

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