Dementia patients missing out on personal budgets

Alzheimer’s charity says a ‘deep-seated misunderstanding’ of the system means fewer than a third of those eligible are using the budgets to choose their own care
Dementia patients

Many patients with dementia are not receiving personalised care because of a ‘deep-seated misunderstanding’ of the system that allows them to tailor their own care, a charity has said.

Some local authorities ‘actively deterred’ callers from finding out about personal budgets. Picture: iStock

The Alzheimer’s Society said that fewer than a third of people receiving social care support for problems with memory and cognition also have a personal budget – cash that is allocated by a local council to pay for care or support.

This is despite the fact that anyone who is receiving support from social services is entitled to a personal budget. 

The charity conducted a ‘mystery-shopper’ style evaluation of 60 councils in England to see whether personalised care budgets were available to patients with dementia.

It said that many are failing to make people with dementia aware of their entitlement to a personal budget.

Patients put off

Nearly two thirds of local authorities failed to provide information relevant to people with dementia, the charity said, while 7% actively deterred the caller from pursuing a personal budget, with some citing how ‘complicated’ the process was.

Alzheimer's Society head of policy George McNamara said: ‘Personal budgets are essential to delivering person-centred care, giving people with dementia choice and control over the care and support they receive.

‘This deep-seated misunderstanding, that personal budgets aren’t appropriate for people with dementia, is preventing local authorities from truly delivering person-centred care.

‘Of the few people with dementia who have a personal budget, fewer still receive direct payments. The vast majority have their payments managed by their local authority, meaning their choice of care provider is limited to those on an approved list.’

The Alzheimer’s Society has created a guide so councils can improve the personal budgets process for people with dementia and their carers. It has also called on authorities to sign up to a dementia-friendly personal budgets charter.