Personalisation, personal budgets, carers and employment
On a recent series of fact finding visits, the Standing Commission on Carers was concerned at the high level of anxiety expressed by many carers about the shift to personal budgets.
Whereas many disabled people have welcomed the flexibility and creativity provided, carers worried about potential administrative burdens; were unsure what the market might offer to purchase and feared the loss of existing services and an expectation to 'do more with less'. In particular, many carers of working age told us how they had to consider giving up paid employment because of the lack of suitable support.
On June 2lst (Carers Week), the Government and Employers for Carers will host a Summit on supporting carers in employment.
In the UK, one in seven employees in any workplace are juggling paid work with care. Carers UK's 2011 State of Caring Survey found that 3l% of working age carers (1018 of 3223 working age carers surveyed) prematurely gave up work to care or reduced their working hours because of the lack of appropriate support services to enable them to continue in employment.
The cost of premature retirement is huge for families, business and the wider economy. Many carers could and would continue working if they had greater flexibility in organizing replacement care and support for their relative. However, currently very few appear to be confident about the potential of personalisation and personal budgets to do so.
One carer told us recently that 'there are good stories around about personal budgets for disabled people. But where are the good stories about personal budgets for carers? If we heard good outcomes, we could be convinced to do things differently'.
I am seeking people willing to share those 'good stories'. As a carer myself, I and my husband have been able to continue in employment precisely because personalisation has enabled us to tailor support for our son more creatively and flexibly. We have telecare (a life-line for working carers, but still not widely known or used) and we draw upon a range of community services and support. There will be many more carers with similar stories - but we need to share their experiences and also to hear from the local authorities, providers, voluntary sector and others about their thoughts, ideas and initiatives for taking forward the personalisation agenda with carers.
We are particularly interested to hear how carers are being supported through personal budgets to remain in employment.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Philippa Russell, Chair, Standing Commission on Carers firstname.lastname@example.org