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It’s not Little Britain, it’s Better Britain – Colin Royle

Posted on:    February 17, 2014

In his second blog, carer Colin Royle, talks about how a personal health budget has improved the wellbeing of his father Malcolm.  Colin will be talking first-hand about his experiences at Health and Care Innovation Expo on Tuesday 4 March in Manchester.

Whenever people are asked to change the way they do something, there is always a certain amount of fear and trepidation involved, and personal health budgets are no different.  Having experienced the incredibly positive effect that having a personalised package of care has had not only on my dad’s life, but also on our family as a whole, it is extremely important to me to try and ensure that other families and individuals have the same opportunities.

In 2011 I was invited to join the national personal health budget peer network.  Over the last three years we have worked in partnership with professionals from the Department of Health and more recently, clinical commissioning groups and NHS England to develop policy and good practice.  But in real life, what is good practice?

Officially, a personal health budget is NHS money allocated to someone with an identified health need to meet the health and well-being outcomes they have chosen during a personal health planning process – a way of putting the person at the heart of their own planning process to identify what it is that really matters to THEM.

So does this mean that somebody will be given a pot of money to spend on anything they like?  What if the things that people want sound ridiculous?  What if they want to spend it on football season tickets, or sky plus boxes, or fancy skiing trips?

I often wonder if people have watched too much of Andy and his carer Lou in Little Britain.  Lou selflessly dedicates his life to looking after wheelchair-bound Andy and Andy selfishly dedicates his life to making things as difficult as possible for Lou.  Whatever Lou seems to suggest for Andy, he chooses the opposite.

‘I don’t want that one, I want that one!’ is his famous catchphrase.  Will people with personal health budgets be as flippant with their money?  Is this right?

When somebody wants to spend their money on something you may consider unusual, maybe you should simply ask them why.  Take my dad, Malcolm, for example.

The vast majority of his package of care has been spent quite traditionally.  We employ five carers who look after him in his own home.  Doesn’t sound so out of this world, right?

But what having a personal health budget has allowed him to do however, is have choice and control over who it is that provides his care.  We are no longer at the mercy of an agency that choose which staff to employ, and what hours they can provide.  Staff are now chosen by ourselves as a family, working the hours that suit Malcolm.

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