Thursday, 11 October 2012

Are We Self Directed?

Last week I did a workshop at a conference around building personal networks (as in care networks), this coincided with Hampshire County Council re-launching or repackaging personalisation. Apart from getting splinters from scratching my head this is deeply concerning, the theory of being in control of one's own care is exciting even revolutionary, the reality is scary, mind boggling with far too many caveats and pitfalls. A large percentage of disabled people don't work and we give them a direct payment and turn them into employers with all the fun that goes with it.
Personalisation is the way forward but we need to remove the big 'P', ('P' for politics). When In Control proved giving disabled people direct control of their financial care packages lead to more efficient and effective use of their care money, personalisation was born. This excited the disabled equality consultants and professionals as we thought we had the mechanism to revolutionise the care system. Then politicians got involved the people that promise the world, and deliver a town lol. Yes, they brought in the appropriate legislation to make it happen but the flavour was soured as person-centred was secondary to finance. The RAS dictates the hours an individual is entitled to.
From a personal point of view the freedom to be able to employ PA's/carers to enable me to live the life I choose is a powerful one but again, the rates of pay I can offer is dictated by the local social services which seem to value care underneath working in a supermarket which is interesting if they want to drive up care standards, they're really not enticing those sort of people into the market place. Can I have a sentence on tax? Now unless you're an employer, the HMRC becomes a mystery and lots of disabled people will fall foul of the system, for instance, there is a 9% levy called Employers Tax which has to be paid by the employer – well if you don't take it off the hourly rate before you offer it to the PA it's going to come out of your personal pocket, lots of people don't know that. So the personalisation system has flaws that unless we address it will never work as a concept. Another concern for me, cos I've been caught three times by people who I've trusted is policing the system. CQC can't police the current system properly without scandals coming to light. How are they going to police individuals within the care system? Do we need to look at the licensing of PA's?
So are we yet self-directed? I don't think we are. There are a band of disabled people that make the best of the current system but there are so many unsupported areas that councils around the country either haven't considered or are simply shutting their eyes too. It's just a worry. My suspicion is this will never quite work properly because there seems to be a large difference of understanding between social services, politicians and disabled people. At the moment this is evident in the current round of benefit reviews and assessing disabled people on their disabilities, this is becoming a common rant for me that I still can't fathom. They have a solution that will cut the care bill dramatically as in personalisation, why do they decide to muck about with it. I personally have found personalisation to be to my benefit, well, that is until they start cutting my package if deemed too expensive. Therefore I am self-directed.