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Brenda's Story

“Fourteen years ago I developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This made a drastic difference to my life, one day I was working full time in care, walking miles, enjoying life, the next I could barely walk across a room.

My introduction to Self-Directed Support (SDS) came at a difficult time when I was told that my 12 hours allocated support was being cut to just 2 hours, twice a week. I live in a rural area so this wouldn’t even give me enough time to go out and get shopping. I wanted to put my hours together on one day but the agency couldn’t manage this.

 My care manager told me about Self-Directed Support, Option 1 and how I could use a Direct Payment to manage my own budget and employ my own Personal Assistants (PAs). At first I felt a bit apprehensive about being an employer but I agreed to meet with Debs, a Cornerstone SDS Advisor. We had a meeting to discuss my needs and see how the options would work for me.

I found being an employer a bit strange at first but a payroll provider takes control of all aspects of PA wages, so you don’t need to worry about any of that. Recruiting in the beginning felt quite daunting but my Cornerstone SDS advisor, Debs, supported with advertising, applications and interviewing. I made the interviews as relaxed as possible for the potential candidates and Debs supported me with this.

 I now have two fantastic carers, Marion and Clare and also a great relief carer, Lilian, who covers when required. The great thing about SDS and Option 1 is the flexibility. If we don’t manage to get out one week because I’ve not been so well, it means we can use the hours at another time for a longer trip.

 I would advise anyone who is thinking of this option through SDS to take a deep breath and go for it. It’s nowhere near as hard as you imagine and there is loads of support available. Debs is always happy to pop in. When we know she is coming to visit my husband Riki says, “Oh no, I’ll be baking again” - she likes his scones!

Although it was hard losing the agency support at the start, I am very happy with how things have turned out and wouldn’t wish it any different now. Having support through SDS has helped build my confidence again as I feel more in control of my own life.”