By Joyce Raw
Whilst Bettina has always been a trailblazer where services are concerned (no doubt due to her “tiger parents”), the chance several years ago to take part in a focus group prior to rolling out Individual Budgets countywide, involved a leap of faith to go from the security of a managed service to running off with the ball, hoping that it would turn out to be the best move!
Fast forward to the present day, and I can safely say that it has been the turning point in Bettina’s life and, as I reflect on the process, this is my advice:
- Lead from the front: Get everyone with a stake in the budget involved. This could be social workers, care managers, family carers, friends of the person needing the budget, educationalists or support agencies.
- Be prepared: Have an arsenal of information, statistics, choices, amenities, contacts etc ready prior to starting the meeting
- Take control: Chair the meeting yourself so that stakeholders do not feel they have been “made responsible” for the work involved or that is to come!
- Use the proper tools: Planning tools such as Person Centred Planning can be indispensable when bringing the plan together and allocating tasks for the next steps. IT tools, such as powerpoint presentations, are great for formulating support plans!
- Take responsibility: Write up the minutes of the meeting yourself, keep everyone informed and up to date on what is happening next and identify a follow-up meeting.
- Have a positive attitude: No-one likes to go into a meeting with a “here we go again” feeling, so keep the meetings light and positive. Afterall, this is about making a positive difference to a person’s life.
- Set a timescale: Have in mind a timescale which should, ideally, be a couple of months prior to the start of the budget being available and contact stakeholders if they have not responded to your emails etc. Bear in mind, as always, that what is a priority for you is not necessarily a priority for them – especially around the end of the financial year when people are usually at their busiest!
- Have contracts ready: If you are employing someone to help with care and support make sure an employment contract is ready to sign and that everything is in place, i.e. bank accounts, payroll services, timesheets etc
As you can see, the main message here is about using good leadership principles to create something which will change someone’s life for the better! Bettina’s budget is reviewed every year, based on her support plan which is used organically to identify and fine tune her life choices.
Do you have any advice for other parents and carers? Let us know in the comments below.
Excellent advice.Having been through the process personally and from observing others going through it from a work perspective, I would like to say that managing your own or a loved one’s care budget, is extremely empowering and rewarding. My only other comment, is that stakeholders can sometimes lag behind you in your enthusiasm and vision. It can take time for everyone else to catch up and get onto the same trailblazing page. Perseverance and mediation is the key to success. There are also community and voluntary organisations out there that can support and assist in these processes. Check out you local area for the resources available. Good luck to all you Trailblazers.