However many people can be very daunted at first and worry they will be taking on too much; but with the right support, guidance and conversations built around their needs the experience can be very positive.

Glenys shares her experience as a parent managing a Personal Budget for her daughter, and working at Independent Lives as a Personal Health Budget adviser with lived experience. Glenys first heard about Personal Health Budgets in 2012 just before her daughter Natasha, who has complex health needs and learning disabilities turned 18.

How Glenys and her daughter Natasha decided a Personal Budget was the right choice for them

After it was confirmed that Natasha was eligible for Continuing Healthcare Funding, an Adviser from Independent Lives visited to explain how a Personal Health Budget could work. After deciding they wished to proceed with a personal health budget to enable them to have more control over the support they received with Natasha’s care, the Adviser worked with the family to write a person centred support plan and draft a budget detailing how the funds would be spent. The personal health budget also funded a personal assistant to go into school with Natasha during her final term so as to become familiar with all her support needs, learning how she communicates and how to best support her during activities such as hydrotherapy or riding her trike.

What happened after Natasha left school

The budget was revised the following year when Natasha left school to provide increased support. This has enabled her to continue living at home which was what both Natasha and her family wanted. Whilst Glenys was being supported by the personal health budget adviser from Independent Lives it was suggested that she might like to apply to a vacant adviser post, as her lived experience was extremely valuable for the role. After being Natasha’s main carer for 19 years and feeling unable to commit to work, Glenys was keen to be able to share her experiences to assist others through the process, having experienced first hand just how invaluable having that support was.

Having a Personal Budget meant Glenys could return to work and support other families

Through the flexibility of managing Natasha’s Personal Health Budget Glenys was able to tailor the support so that she was able to apply for the role and return to work part-time.

Independent Lives sees that at the heart of personal health budgets are good, person centred conversations with their customers, helping capturing what is important for and to them to remain healthy. Glenys' role is to guide the customer through these conversations which are then captured in a support plan. This can be written together with the individual and their family, the personal health budget adviser and health care professional.

Glenys shared her thoughts on working as an adviser:

When I first visit customers they often have very little understanding of what a Personal Health Budget is and how it can be used to deliver their care in a more person centred way.

They appreciate the continuity of having a named adviser who will remain available to them for support for as long as they are in receipt of a personal health budget direct payment. Many customers choose to employ their own PAs and are often daunted by the prospect of becoming employers.

I am able to assist them by equipping them with the necessary tools to become effective employers, confident in managing their staff and meeting the legal obligations of being an employer.

I manage to put people at ease and for them, knowing that I also manage my own personal health budget for my daughter who has complex needs can be reassuring as I have first-hand experience of the challenges they can face.