These are unprecedented times for our society and for how we care for our older and disabled populations. As such we need to think outside the box as to how we can ensure the supports and care needed in the community are there for our most vulnerable.

At Home Care Direct, we feel personal budgets could have a real role to play in ensuring sufficient care and support are available to our vulnerable population during this Corona Virus crisis but also crucially, a role to play in addressing the other major problem the crisis is causing, mass unemployment.

Personal budgets are a way to encourage communities to do what they used to do 100 years ago, look after themselves.

They have the potential to activate local unemployed people to provide care, make under pressure budgets go further and also to decrease the pressure on overburdened HSE administrative staff.

Personal budgets basically place more control in the hands of families with regard their care and also place more responsibility on them with regard the organising and management of that care.

Already the HSE are relaxing tender requirements to try and ensure providers have the capacity to meet potential demand but why not go further and give families the option of contracting directly with local people where appropriate?

This kind of initiative could;

Activate Local People

With personal budgets, families have the possibility to contract directly with local people who might be available, rather than being obliged to use approved corporate providers who may already be under pressure. With personal budgets, more funds go directly to carers, making caring more attractive. Contracting directly with local carers also means more sustainable care and with less travel, there is less possibilities of transmission of the virus. Finally, with local carers earning more, especially if they have recently been made unemployed, more money circulates in the local economy helping to counter act the negative economic consequences of the virus.

Achieve Better Value

By having the option of contracting directly with local carers where appropriate and removing the cost of a corporate provider, funds can go much further.

Lessen Administrative Burden on the HSE

Because personal budgets place more responsibility on families to manage their own care, HSE administrative personnel are freed up to concentrate on other tasks that they might be needed for.

We are seeing a wonderful resurgence of community spirit during this crisis with people going out of their way to help neighbours. Why not encourage that further and help keep local economies alive by paying people for their help? Where people have home care packages, let them use them as personal budgets, directly with local people where appropriate.

The Home Care Direct platform is one vehicle that could be used to enable the more widespread use of personal budgets and ensure the care provided is safe, transparent and easily accessed.

In times of unprecedented crisis like we are facing now, we need to examine all possible solutions and not just rely on the status quo.