62, St Austell

Chris’s mum is 90 years old and has dementia. She is able to live in her own home because of the carers Chris organises.

"I said, ‘Look Mum, you kept me on the straight and narrow when I was growing up, you did so much for me, and now it’s time for me to help you.’ We started off with a private arrangement to pay for a carer three days a week.

We found a wonderful person who used to work in a care home and who has become a great friend of the family. She’s one in a million and without her my mum would be in a home. She visits three days a week and will pop in if there is an emergency.

Then social services did a Care needs assessment and said she needed X hours a week. Mum was self-funding at first, but that changed later. The council are only interested in getting the cheapest care. They don’t consider people’s actual needs, even though they have a legal responsibility to meet them.

For example, when someone has dementia, it is best to keep the number of different visitors going in to a minimum, otherwise the person gets confused. I said there should be a maximum of four carers in during the week. They said, ‘Oh no, it’ll be eight or nine.’ And the carers would go in and my mum would say, ‘Have a cup of coffee and a chat.’ So they did, but it meant nothing was getting done.

The downside to a personal budget

The trouble is that if you have a personal budget from the local authority that you can control yourself and you pay carers directly, you become their employer. You are responsible for things like training, paying National Insurance and holiday pay. It’s a lot of responsibility and work.

I put together a personal care plan saying what carers should do when they visit. It includes things like making sure that my mum has taken her medication, whether there are batteries in her hearing aids, to check that she has washed, has clean clothes on and has had something to eat.

I used these criteria to find an agency that I was happy with when the council were paying the invoices directly. I then said to the council that I wanted to use this agency. They said, ‘They’re not on our list.’ It was all to do with money.

And the upside

But I can use the personal budget to employ the agency. It is fantastic, I don’t have the legal responsibilities of being an employer, but I am able to agree the care plan and choose which company to use. So my mum can live in her own home, and she’s comfortable.

'I can use the personal budget to employ the agency. It is fantastic, I don’t have the legal responsibilities of being an employer'

I had to fight. I threatened to go to my MP and the director of adult social care. You have got to find out as much as you can, and dig and dig and dig. Nobody is going to do it for you. There’s a range of benefits that everybody is entitled to. I wasn’t aware of any of this at the start. I am now!"

More information

Page last reviewed: 30 November 2015
Next review due: 31 January 2017