SCIE Report 40: Keeping personal budgets personal: learning from the experiences of older people, people with mental health problems and their carers

Managing the personal budget

Peer support

In all the case study areas, the main form of peer support offered was support groups. However, none of the personal budget holders with mental health problems had attended a peer support group. Some knew about them but did not want to get involved, either because they did not feel comfortable in a group or doubted the value of such a group. A small number of older personal budget holders had attended a peer support group organised by their local support provider but not all of them had found it helpful. Some carers had accessed peer support through their local carers' groups but this was not specifically linked to personal budgets.

A number of personal budget holders and carers said that they would have welcomed peer support, especially when they first received their personal budget. However, they felt this could be offered in a number of ways, not just in groups. Some would have liked to talk to an existing personal budget holder or carer about the experience of having a personal budget, while others felt that more 'experienced' personal budget holders would have been able to give them useful hints and tips about how to manage a personal budget. The idea of a 'personal budget buddy', who could provide informal advice and support to new personal budget holders, was also welcomed.

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