After waiting for just under one year, I finally received my personal health budget (PHB). Since the introduction of the Care Act allowing every service user to have their own PHB is a great leap for people with disabilities to become more independent and have control over their life. After many years of battling with social services trying to prove to them that I needed a live-in carer to support my needs because of my long-term health condition I eventually ended up in hospital with pneumonia.
I spent 9 weeks in hospital because of underlying health conditions due to my long-term health condition. I received a continuing healthcare package and when I came out of hospital last February I was looking forward to finally taking control of my own care. However, due to the ‘newness’ of the Clinical Commissioning Group personal health budgets there was a long process of ensuring that my needs would be met. Part of this process involved producing a ‘support plan’ of how my assessed needs, outcomes and how I want to use my personal budget to achieve these outcomes.
After leaving hospital, my care was placed with an agency and understandably their costs were quite high with their overheads such as administration staff wages and paying their carers the minimum wage. This means the whole of my PHB goes entirely to the agency, leaving me no money from my budget to pay for any extras such as respite breaks and alternative therapies.
I was happy when my support plan was approved and my PHB was transferred over to me allowing me to customise my care. However, I have since found out that if I want to employ my own Personal Assistants (PAs), which will obviously be better for me, the PA (increased wages) and value for money for the NHS, I will have to have my support plan reviewed. Which already took almost a year.
The reason behind this I have been told, is that they want to make sure that employing my own PAs, my needs will be met. Of course they will be met! There is no difference with employing PAs from an agency to me employing my own PAs. All I’m doing is cutting out a very expensive middleman such as the agency and any unspent budget will be returned to the NHS.
The only reason I can see behind reviewing my support plan is to reduce my PHB so they can adjust it just to the PAs wages. Which defeats the purpose of having a PHB and to be able to pursue activities that will benefit my well-being and independence.