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Personal health budgets to put people in control of their care

A pilot scheme designed to give vulnerable residents more choice and control over the health care they receive has launched, thanks to an initiative led by Bracknell Forest Council.

As part of the council’s transformation programme, the adult social care team is working with Bracknell and Ascot Clinical Commissioning Group (BACCG) to trial personal health budgets for people with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), physical health or mental health conditions.

A personal health budget is money to pay for an individual’s healthcare, which they are then able to spend on their treatment, healthcare or equipment to support their condition.

The council is working with BACCG to provide personal health budgets for up to 40 people across Bracknell Forest, Windsor and Maidenhead and Slough for a 6 month period, allowing them to have more choice and control over the care they receive.

The pilot comes following Bracknell Forest Council’s success with using direct payments to provide social care support, allowing people to manage the care they receive through a budget paid via a re-loadable card. Personal health budgets will be provided via the same card, allowing residents to access money to cover their health needs, as well as their social care needs.

Currently, the council supports people with social care needs via direct payments and, where a health need is identified, the resident is referred to the BACCG which provides a separate healthcare package.

Under the personal health budgets model, as part of the health and care partnership between local authorities and the NHS, the council is working alongside healthcare teams to provide an individual with a personal health budget. The money can be used to purchase the support they choose, as part of a plan agreed with health and social care professionals.

The amount an individual is entitled to will be agreed based on a healthcare assessment, as well as the calculated amount of support required for their lifetime needs, so they get the right support as their condition and needs change.

Personal health budgets will mean people:

  • know how much money they have for their health and care support
  • are able to set out what they want to achieve through health and social care support
  • are able to create their own care plan, with support from health and care professionals if they want it
  • are able to choose how their budget is held and managed
  • are able to spend the money in ways and at times that make sense to them

Where an individual is not able to make decisions for themselves, their carer or guardian will become the budget holder with support from the council and health teams to ensure they know which options are available.

The proposed introduction of personal health budgets forms part of the council’s transformation of its adult social care services, which, through working more closely with health and voluntary sector organisations, aims to support people to be as independent as possible. It also meets the Frimley Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) health and care aim of ensuring care is integrated and efficient.

Cllr Dale Birch, executive member for adult services, health and housing, said:

We know there isn’t a one size fits all approach to health and social care, and often an individual requires different levels of support throughout their lives. We also know that, in order to improve the health and wellbeing of residents, health and care should work together.

We are therefore pleased to be working with our health partners to introduce the council’s direct payments model into health care plans for residents, which will ultimately result in vulnerable people in the borough being able to access the support they need, when they need it.

This pilot will enable us to work alongside our health partners to trial a new system which really puts residents at the heart of health and social care and will improve the wellbeing of those with learning disabilities, ASD, physical and mental health conditions.

The pilot model has been developed in partnership between the three East Berkshire CCGs, Bracknell Forest Council and neighbouring local authority partners, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and Slough councils.

Lorraine Charlton, lead for personal health budgets at Bracknell and Ascot Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

This pilot for NHS continuing healthcare funded clients is an opportunity to make a significant difference to individuals by giving them more choice and control over how their healthcare is provided.

This pilot is an opportunity to co-produce a process which can be introduced to other cohorts.

If the pilot is deemed successful, Bracknell Forest Council and BACCG will look to roll out personal health budgets to all people which meet BACCG’s criteria for continuing healthcare in 2018.

For more information, please email