Last week Independent Lives welcomed Charles from Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) for his third sector placement. This is the first time a placement has been made following the introduction of the scheme – it’s such a brilliant opportunity to learn how people with long term health conditions are managing their health with Personal Health Budgets (PHB).

Currently individuals who are eligible for NHS Continuing Health Care are able to have a PHB - and what a difference they can make! I was able to share with Charles some really positive examples in which people aren’t letting their complex healthcare needs stop them from working, attending university, going out to night clubs, getting married. Not just surviving but thriving!

The third sector community placements involve medical students spending time with a local voluntary or statutory organisation from the health and social care field. Over the course of the year they spent three afternoon visits with our organisation. During each visit they observed and shadowed workers and interacted with service users to learn about the aims of the organisation, the services provided, and the experiences and needs of the people using the services. Our students had the opportunity to learn about the specific needs of individuals and the implications for health and healthcare provision. 

Charles is training to become a doctor and hoping to specialise in diabetes, he was telling me about how Type 2 diabetes comprises the majority of people with diabetes around the world, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity – we both agreed that lifestyle choices are a complex matter and closely linked to mental health and wellbeing. Three in five people with diabetes experience emotional or mental health problems, and alarmingly only three in ten (30 per cent) said they definitely felt in control of their diabetes*.

Yesterday (17/05/2018) I spent time talking to him about the social model of disability and NHS England’s Five Year Forward Plan and Integrated Care Systems. There’s an excellent article here if you want more information:  https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/making-sense-integrated-care-systems

NHS England is currently consulting on extending the right to have a personal health budget to specific groups of people, which you can read about here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/personal-health-budgets-and-integrated-personal-budgets-extending-legal-rights.

I wonder if in the future personal health budgets could support people to improve how they manage their diabetes and improve their mental health and wellbeing. Maybe reduce or avoid the risks associated with diabetes?

Charles said he will qualify in 2023 so maybe things will look a lot different by then!

Thank you Charles for spending time with us, we wish you well in the future.

*https://www.diabetes.org.uk/About_us/News/three-in-five-people-with-diabetes-experience-emotional-or-mental-health-problems