Guide to Self Directed Support

Introduction

Self Directed Support is what central government have called a new system for receiving help and support. Instead of a traditional adult social care package, people who are assessed as eligible to receive care will be awarded a personal budget to spend on support and services.

Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) will provide all or some of the money for your Personal Budget depending on your financial situation. Once awarded, your budget can be used flexibly and creatively by you to give you much more choice and control over what services you attend and what you choose to do in order to remain as independent as possible.

This guide will take you through the 7 stages to getting a Personal Budget and provide some useful local contact details.

Step One: Assessment

You must complete a self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ). The questionnaire includes 10 questions about your life, what kind of support you need and most importantly what your goals are. You can fill this out on your own, with someone from your circle of support, an advocate, or with your care manager.

Each question has a number of answers which equate to a score. Once you have answered each question your care manager will identify with you ‘essential outcomes’ (the things you need support with) and work out your likely Personal Budget by adding up the points from the answer to each question.

A Resource Allocation System (RAS) is used to work out how much money you are entitled to and your likely budget has to be agreed by NCC. When this has been agreed, you will be told how much your Personal Budget is and whether or not you will be expected to contribute personally towards it.

Step Two: Create a Plan

Once you know how much your Personal Budget will be, you will need to write a support plan describing how you will use your Personal Budget to achieve your goals. It should include what you want to change and what you need to do to make those changes to achieve your goals (essential outcomes). It should identify what support you need to meet each essential outcome, how you will stay healthy, safe, and in control of your life, and what will happen if circumstances change. It should also state how your support will be managed and what your plan will cost.

If you are unable to create the plan yourself then you can get help to do it from an advocate, your circle of support, your care manager, or you may choose to pay a support broker to assist you.

Step Three: Agreement

Once your support plan is written it has to be agreed by Northamptonshire County Council before you will receive your money. It forms a contract between you and the Council who has a duty of care and a responsibility towards you. They should only agree a plan if they feel it will meet your needs.

Once your plan is agreed the Council will decide the final amount of money that you will receive in your Personal Budget. This amount will take account of your financial circumstances and you will be asked to pay towards the cost of your support if you are assessed as being able to afford it. Because everyone is different and will have different personal circumstances and needs there is no ‘standard’ amount of money that you will receive – it is personal to you.

Step Four: The Money

There are different ways to pay for support using your Personal Budget. You can choose one or more of the ways below:

Direct Payments

You can choose to receive all or part of your Personal Budget as a direct payment paid:

1. Straight to you – you open a separate bank account for the direct payment and look after it. You pay for your support and keep a record of everything you spend.

2. To an Agent – the money is paid to someone who agrees to act on your behalf. Your Agent spends the money on support to meet your needs.

3. To a Trust which is set up to act for you. NCC will form a contract with your Trust and pay your Personal Budget into your Trust’s bank account.

4. To an independent broker that you have asked to control your money for you.

Your direct payment can be paid either monthly, quarterly or bi-annually. You can also apply to have ‘one off’ payments for things like equipment or deposits if it is in your support plan.

Payment to a Service Provider

This is called an Individual Service Fund. This means that a service provider will manage your money to provide a service just for you. The service provider that you choose will keep your money and make an account for you. You may have to pay the service provider a management fee, but the rest of the money is only for your support.

Northamptonshire County Council holds the money

Northamptonshire County Council can provide or arrange services for you and hold the money on your behalf.

Step Five: The Support

There are a number of different ways for you to arrange to receive the support you have identified on your care plan:

1. You can recruit your own staff —You could use an agency to help you with this.

2. Choose from existing service providers — You could get a list of service providers who are registered with Commission of Social Care Inspection (CSCI) or the County Council from their website.

3. Pay a broker to organise support for you — A broker is a person that assists you to plan and organise support using your Personal Budget.

4. Northamptonshire County Council staff — There are people who work in the Care Management Teams who are able to help you find out about and arrange services.

Step Six: Progression and Development

By this stage you will have your Personal Budget and be in control of it and your life, and you will be accessing the things that you have identified on your care plan to achieve your ‘essential outcomes’. You will need to keep records of your spending and tell Northamptonshire County Council how you are spending your money unless you are making use of an Agent, a Broker, or an Individual Service Fund in which case these records will be kept and information passed on your behalf.

Step Seven: Review

After 6 weeks and at the end of the year you will have a review with your care manager so that you can see how your plan has worked for you, if any problems have occurred and whether they were sorted out. During the review you will also need to say how you have spent your money. Your care manager will arrange this meeting.

The review will focus on 4 areas that are designed to explore what has worked well in the support plan and also to identify any lessons that may have been learnt along the way:

1. Essential Outcomes – how have they been achieved?

2. How has your natural and paid support helped you?

3. Managing your money

4. Any new goals/objectives

You and your care manager should review your Personal Budget together, plus you can have input from your Circle of Support, Peers or an advocate if you would like.

You will need to complete a Personal Budgets Support Plan Review. If your life has changed a lot, you may need a new assessment which your care manager will do with you.

Further Information:

Northamptonshire County Council 0300 126 1000

www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/adults/personal_budgets

www.in-control.org.uk 0121 708 3031

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