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

Key issues

Recognising carers

Carers clearly play a central role in enabling many personal budget holders to take up and manage their personal budgets. This is particularly the case for people with dementia, but also for younger people with mental health problems who are experiencing a mental health crisis. Many practitioners were working well with carers and certainly the study showed that personal budgets could make a significant difference to carers' lives. However, there was still a sense that the role and contribution of carers was not fully recognised in the personal budget process. While respecting the independence and rights of the personal budget holder, carers should be involved in all stages of the personal budget process, if this is what they, and the personal budget holder, want. Resource allocation systems should also be 'carer neutral' - i.e. allocation should be based on no carer input and then adjusted to take account of the support a carer is willing and able to provide. This approach would also help to strengthen contingency planning and reduce the need for reassessments. It would also be helpful if local authorities could provide guidance for personal budget holders and carers about employing family members as personal assistants.