Close-up of a smiling person wearing sunglasses

Jill lives in Croydon with her husband and her dog. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2000 and has been using Direct Payments since 2014. She joined Independent Lives in 2020.

Jill began receiving Direct Payments in 2014, after reaching a point where she needed extra support.

When my impairment began to worsen, my husband was doing everything. So, he was walking me up the stairs, putting one foot up, then the other, one foot up and then the other.

After struggling by ourselves, we spoke to a social worker who said ‘This is ridiculous. Your husband cannot do this, you need more support with this’, which is when I was introduced to Direct Payments.

The addition of support had an immediate impact.

It helped in multiple ways, not only was there more medical help. But just having somebody to help, it’s just mind blowing.

Going from your husband trying to help you be who you were, while they’re still working. And then having somebody who can help you, so that your husband has time to sit down and to eat his breakfast is fabulous.

Jill used agency staff for years until the pandemic forced her to change things.

After COVID, everything fell apart. At one point, I said, I would only have care if we knew we had the same person every time, and my husband said that we’d be able to manage, because right at the beginning, everyone thinks they can manage.

And it was ridiculous, we just couldn’t do it. My husband was on the verge of collapse, so I spoke to Croydon Council who suggested I employ my own staff as agency care couldn’t provide the support that I needed.

Employing her own staff gave Jill a regularity that was missing from agency care.

The main benefit is that we work together regularly. I’ve known my Personal assistant for ages, and we get on really well, she’s really helpful. And you get the continuation of care for less than if you were using an agency. Also, If I was just using an agency, I’d be paying a lot more, so it allows for an increase in my support as well.

With support from Independent Lives, Jill now employs one PA with support from an agency on weekends.

When I started as an employer, my Independent Lives adviser Amy was really helpful and did all the things that I was unable to do, like putting together employment contracts. She was always there, giving the right advice and pointing me in the right direction. Which was a great help because there’s a lot to deal with if you’ve never been an employer before.

Now, if I want some advice with anything relating to employment, I call Independent Lives. All the employment support they’ve provided works really well.

Independent Lives provides a range of services and support for people receiving Direct Payments. Click here to find out more about our Direct Payment support services.