NEWS: Personal Healthcare Budgets

When faced with a long term health condition or disability, it is important to have a say in how your care is delivered. Choice and ensuring the care is tailored to your specific needs is paramount.

In 2014 the NHS reviewed the way healthcare costs were distributed and created personal healthcare budgets, giving everybody a voice in how their health and wellbeing needs are delivered.

It isn’t new money, but a different way of spending health funding to meet the needs of an individual explains St Luke’s clinical educator, Su Jameson “A personal health budget may be used for a range of things to meet agreed health and wellbeing outcomes. This can include therapies, personal care and equipment. What often comes as a surprise is that your care doesn’t necessarily have to be provided by a healthcare professional, it could be a relative or anyone, it is your choice.”

In response to local demand our education department are now offering courses to help and guide anyone with an approved personal healthcare budget. “Once the budget is in place, we can assist in training the carers with the skills they need to be able to care for that individual. The training can take place at home and will be bespoke to the care needs of the individual. Each course is unique, care requirements will differ from person to person, so you can’t simply roll out the same training to everybody”.

Zak Hughes, aged 21 from Yealmpton is one of the first to take advantage of St Luke’s new training service. “Personal healthcare budgets can be a bit daunting, I knew I wanted choice in my care and to become more independent, but I needed a little help.”

Mum Wendy said: “Zak has had a rare neuromuscular condition, myotubular myopathy (www.myotubulartrust.org) since birth, affecting his breathing, swallowing and mobility. For him, something as simple as opening an envelope is impossible.” Zak’s mum and dad had always been closely involved in managing his daily needs with some support from a care agency in his teenage years. Naturally, on reaching adulthood, Zak felt it was time to take things into his control, starting with employing his own team of carers.

Arriving at Zak’s home with bags of medical equipment and five medical manikins, trainers Su Jameson and Mike Thomas delivered a seven hour advanced learning practical and theory course for his six carers. “Not all of his carers came from a previous career in nursing” said Su. For Zak, our training was centred around recognising a deteriorating adult, basic life support, nasopharyngeal suctioning, medicine management and pressure area care management. This course not only gives the carers confidence to manage Zak’s needs, but also makes them feel they are fulfilling their personal and professional development.”

Attending the course were six care assistants Mel, Vicky, Faye, Honey, Steve and Jemma. “You can tell that they are professional trainers, it was so in-depth, but delivered at a level everyone could understand. It was the best training I think we’ve ever had and delivered with a sense of humour and fun which made it really memorable.”

While Zak feels that it is important for his carers to feel invested to help them maintain fulfilment in their work, it is also equally important to him that as well as being people who he has things in common with, they are also confident in delivering care of the highest quality. “I would like to say a big thank you to St Luke’s for their role in doing just that!” said Zak.

Our education department is run by a multidisciplinary team of nurses, physiotherapists and public health professionals offering external training courses to healthcare workers. They specialise in courses focussed on upskilling healthcare professionals linked to palliative and end of life, alongside providing general healthcare training. All profits from the courses are invested into our service to help deliver care to over 3,400 patients every year.