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How do personal budgets work?

If you’re worried that your loved one will struggle to pay for care or support, either now or in the future, it’s worth finding out if they qualify for a personal budget from their local authority. Here’s what you need to know…

In a nutshell

A personal budget is the amount of money a person with dementia might be able to receive to make life a little easier. Personal budgets can be used to pay for anything from a full time carer, to a once-a-week taxi to visit grandchildren. The money is often paid directly to the person it’s intended for – this is called ‘direct payments’ – so that it goes into their bank account and they can be in control of it themselves, which is all part of the Person Centred Care ethos.

BUT many carers are understandably concerned that their loved ones won’t be able to manage the budget themselves (it can be quite complicated). And even if they could manage it, they might not want the stress.

SO you – or they – can request that the money is managed by someone else.

BUT this can mean employing someone, including taking references and doing background checks etc.

SO the council will sometimes take on the role of managing the budget itself (or at least the biggest part of it).

BUT if your loved one is no longer considered to have Mental Capacity to either decide who should take on this role or to handle direct payments, you can ask to take on the responsibility for the budget yourself, by becoming what’s known as an ‘authorised person’.

How to get a personal budget

Not everyone with dementia is entitled to a personal budget. To find out if your loved one is eligible you must:

1. Ask social services for a care needs assessment and fulfil certain financial criteria before being told if you are eligible.

2. Devise a care plan showing how the personal budget could be best used to meet your loved one’s needs.

3. Ask social services to check your care plan and get council approval

4. Work out how to manage the budget itself (see above).

Good to know

Although personal budgets might sound complicated, and the direct payment method has not been without its problems, the idea behind the creation of personal budgets was to highlight the uniqueness of every person’s dementia journey, and to acknowledge that every person will have different needs along the way– which is surely a step in the right direction.