People with dementia are not reaping the benefits of personal budgets because of a lack of information and knowledge among social care professionals, and tightening eligibility criteria, an Alzheimer’s Society report warns today (Thursday).
Three in five people with dementia assessed as eligible for social care in the community were not even offered a personal budget, while 15% declined an offer of one, found a survey of over 1,400 people with dementia and carers conducted by the charity in late 2010.
This was despite the benefits they could bring, it said.
Fifty-four per cent of respondents with a direct payment said the person with dementia was getting all the support they needed, compared with 38% of those who declined the offer of a direct payment and 43% of those never been offered one.
The charity identified several access barriers, including:
● A lack of information on and support for users and carers in managing personal budgets, resulting in the perception that direct payments in particular are a burden for families.
● Rising eligibility thresholds meaning people only access social care at crisis point, when personal budgets are not appropriate.
● A lack of knowledge among social care professionals about how personal budgets can be made to work for people with dementia, leading to an “over-cautious” approach.
Recommendations included councils commissioning tailored support services to help people with dementia make the most of personal budgets, providing information highlighting their benefits and improving staff training, for instance on extending direct payments to people who lack capacity to consent.
However, Victoria Hart, a social worker in an older adults mental health team and a College of Social Work spokesperson, said: “We aren’t given the tools necessary to undertake the additional time it would take to do a really good piece of work with someone with dementia because working with someone with dementia will take longer.”
Think Local Act Personal spokesman said it welcomed the report for providing good ideas and approaches that councils and organisations could mirror.
A spokesman said: “Think Local Act Personal will shortly establish a national self-directed support forum to gather and share intelligence and good practice to promote improvement in the implementation of self-directed support. In doing this, we will work with the Alzheimer’s Society to identify and resolve obstacles faced by people with dementia and ensure their findings are well shared.
“We see it as a positive sign that Jeremy Hughes, CEO of Alzheimer’s Society has been appointed co-lead for the personalisation strand of the Caring for Our Future White Paper engagement exercise and are confident he will ensure that the needs of groups not fully benefiting both from personal budgets and wider approaches to personalisation will be heard.”
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