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

Ongoing management

Most personal budget holders with mental health problems were able to manage their personal budget themselves with little or no support. Where help was needed, the main source was their community psychiatric nurse or social worker. Some people also had support from family or friends. Older personal budget holders were more likely to receive active support in managing their budget. A significant proportion had support from a support provider or social worker. Older personal budget holders and carers were generally positive about the service provided by support organisations; where people were less happy, the main reason concerned charging. Where older personal budget holders were very frail or had dementia, carers had often taken full or substantial responsibility for the budget.

All sites had support provider or user-led organisations offering personal budget holders support, although the number and nature of these varied. Most had some grant funding but all made a charge for some of their services, a practice most personal budget holders and carers were happy to accept. Generally providers offered a 'menu' of support. No provider appeared to charge for more general support and advice. personal budget holders and carers reported that access to this 'free' informal support was important, both in terms of the sense of security it gave them and in building a positive relationship with the support provider.

In all sites, the main form of peer support offered was groups. A number of personal budget holders and carers said that they would have welcomed peer support, especially when they first got their personal budget. They felt this could be offered in a number of ways including the opportunity to talk to an existing personal budget holder or carer about the experience of having a personal budget or to be linked up with a 'personal budget buddy'.