Personal Health Budgets – What Are They and How Can They Help?

  personal health budgets

Understanding personal health budgets and individual needs

Personal Health Budgets (PHB) are designed to give patients who have “opted in” much greater control over their health care provision.

In essence they have opportunities to benefit from more “person-centred” care.

For this system to work, the individual needs to be comfortable with how the Personal Health Budgets (PHB) work.

Family members, personal assistants or any direct carers should be able to support the individual fully and professionally.

Additionally, it is important for them to be in a position to do so. In fact, anyone involved in the process of PHBs needs to have a grasp of their aims, processes and management.

Making a commitment to reaching the right level of understanding is crucial. This not only involves general health issues. But also the way in which the Personal Health Budget system can be of maximum benefit.

What are personal health budgets?

Personal health budgets (PHB) are a way for people with long-term health conditions or disabilities to receive money directly from the National Health Service (NHS) to cover their care and support.

This gives them more say in the services they get.

Personal health budgets are like pocket money for people who have long-term health issues or disabilities. Instead of the money going to the doctors, it goes straight to the person to help with their care and support.

Explaining what PHBs are in bits:

  • It’s money from the NHS given to certain people to help with their health and support needs.
  • The amount of money depends on what the person needs for their care.
  • The person or someone they trust looks after this money.

What can they be spent on?

  • They can use it to get help from personal care assistants for things like dressing, bathing, and cooking.
  • It can be used for therapies like exercises, activities, or talking to someone.
  • They can get special tools or change their home if it helps with their disability.
  • If something like a massage or special activity is good for their health, they can use the money for that.
  • They can spend it on things that make them feel good, like playing sports, doing hobbies, or going to special places.
  • If they want to learn more about their health, they can use the money for courses.
  • Sometimes, they can take a short break, and the money can be used for that or to give a break to the person who helps take care of them.

The important thing is that the money should be used for things agreed upon in a plan made with the NHS.

This way, the person can decide how the money is used to help them be more independent and have a good quality of life.

How to apply for a Personal Health Budgets (PHB)

A person with complex or long-term health needs or their caregiver can apply for a Personal Health Budget.

The starting point is to discuss individual requirements with the healthcare professional you deal with most. This is often your GP.

There should be no hesitation in making this initial approach. There are still ways to explore a more individualised program of health and well-being support for each person. Even if a PHB is not appropriate.

If approved, the individual needs to set up a separate bank account with the express purpose of handling the money issued for their Personal Health Budgets.

The same bank account can also receive payments for the individual’s social care budget or Independent Living Fund.

However, managing the PHB is the only purpose for which this bank account can be used.

Funds are agreed to match individual needs. The individual could make payments for health and wellbeing support by direct payment.

They could also access services with notional transactions or commission services provided by third parties. These third parties receive funds from the NHS for this purpose.

At the heart of it, is individual choice and control for the person with the PHB.

What to consider when applying for personal health budget

When you’re thinking about getting a personal health budget (PHB), here are some important things to keep in mind:


  • Check if you have long-term health issues or ongoing care needs. PHBs are usually for people dealing with these kinds of situations.
  • Look into the specific requirements in your area. Different places might have slightly different rules. Your local NHS trust or government agency can help with this.

Understanding PHBs:

  • Learn about the good things and the limits of PHBs. They give you more control over your care, but you’ll need to handle a budget and make choices about your care plan.
  • Get to know how the application process works, how they make your personalized care plan, and what’s expected when you have a PHB.


  • Think about if you can handle a budget and make smart choices about your care. PHBs need you to make decisions on your own and maybe keep track of money.
  • Consider if you have family, friends, or healthcare pros who can help if you need support with your PHB.


  • Collect all your medical papers and documents. This will back up your application and show that you really need ongoing care.
  • Get ready for the assessment. This might mean chatting with healthcare pros about what you need, your goals, and what you prefer.

Additional factors:

  • Be clear about what you need and what you want to achieve during the assessment and planning.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you understand everything about PHBs and feel okay with the process.
  • Think about possible problems, like finding good care or dealing with paperwork. Be realistic about what might come up.

Helping individuals to maximise their personal health budgets

Those who support an individual in using their PHB have a responsibility to provide advice and recommendations. They should do this in a way that puts the individual’s needs and preferences to the forefront.

By the very nature of a PHB, these are people with long-term or complex health conditions and disabilities. This means they may face daily distractions and issues that make decision making even more of a challenge.

If you are in a position of trust as a personal assistant or carer, you will need to combine your intuitive understanding of their medical requirements and obstacles. You will also need to have a determination to adhere to a person-centred approach.

Carers and PAs may need to guide and inform these critically ill individuals, and those with complicated health requirements, in a way that seeks out personal preferences, when the person is confused and unsure.

You may also play a pivotal role in keeping all involved parties in the loop.

This can be a balancing act.

For example, supporting the individual PHB-holder in communicating with their wider care team, including health service providers and relevant family members, while still protecting their human right to privacy.

Managing PHBs effectively

The whole ethos of the system is to provide greater choice over such things such as the equipment, therapies and personal care levels that individuals need.

However, the individual has a finite amount of money to spend. Managing it, to achieve all health and wellbeing goals, may sometimes be challenging.

If extra support is needed to help an individual to manage their PHB, there are bodies specifically structured to assist in organising, buying and managing social and health care provision at home, such as Salvere.


Personal health budget training

There is a lot to think about and manage. You need to maintain freedom of choice at the same time as safeguarding health care provision.

This is why many individuals and carers choose to commission specific training.

Personal Health Budget training provides the individuals and their representatives with the skills and insights to plan and agree care with their local CCG.

They can explore ways of budgeting and spending, to make sure they meet the specifications on their plan.

Caring for Care delivers highly bespoke training to cater to individual differences in questions, issues, and opportunities. The training team tailors the training to each person’s unique needs.

If required, the trainers can deliver this training in the individual’s own home or any other location at a time that suits them best.

This can be important for working around the challenges and limitations of complex medical conditions.

Part of the service includes competency assessments. Our professional team can also help formulate care plans, sign off plans and provide an ongoing clinical oversight service and risk assessments.

PHBs put you in the driving seat but our training provides maps and compasses!

Someone counting coin money on the floor

Are personal health budgets means tested?

No, personal health budgets in the UK are not means-tested.

To get a personal health budget, it’s all about whether a person has significant health and care needs that continue over time.

The amount of money given in a personal health budget depends on what care and support a person needs, not on how much money they make or have in savings.

These budgets are meant to let eligible people have more say in how their healthcare money is spent. The NHS provides the money for these budgets.

Whether someone can pay for some of their care or can’t contribute anything financially, they might still get a personal health budget if they meet the needs criteria set by their local NHS group.

So, to sum it up, unlike some other types of care funding that check finances, personal health budgets don’t look at how much money a person has.

They’re given based on what a person needs, no matter their financial situation.

How much is a personal health budget?

The money given in a personal health budget (PHB) isn’t fixed and can vary a lot. It depends on a few things:

1. Individual needs: If someone has more complex health and well-being needs, needing lots of different services or equipment, they might get a bigger budget than someone with simpler needs.

2. Local health resources: The amount of money available in the local NHS trust also matters. Some places might not have as much money, so there could be limits on the overall PHB amount.

3. Cost of services: The specific services, equipment, or therapies someone needs affect the budget. If the care plan involves special equipment or treatments that cost more, the budget might be higher.

Because of these factors, there’s no set or average amount for a personal health budget. If you want to know about the potential budget for your situation:

  • Talk to your healthcare professional when they assess you for a PHB. They can figure out your needs and give you an idea of the budget based on their experience and the local resources available.
  • Check information from your local NHS trust or government agencies. They might have details about how PHBs work and how budgets are decided in your area.

Section 117 and Personal Health Budgets (PHB)

Section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983 makes it a legal duty for NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and local social services authorities to give or arrange aftercare services for certain people who were held under the Act.

When it comes to personal health budgets, Section 117 allows for the following:


  • People who were detained under certain sections of the Mental Health Act and then leave the hospital can qualify for Section 117 aftercare services. This includes getting support through a personal health budget.

Free care and support:

  • Any care and support services under Section 117 must be given for free. This includes services paid for through a personal health budget.

Types of services:

  • Personal health budgets under Section 117 can cover lots of aftercare services to help with the person’s mental health, like staying in a special place, getting support in the community, counseling, therapies, social care, and equipment.

Joint funding:

  • The cost of the personal health budget and services under Section 117 is shared between the CCG (for healthcare needs) and the local authority (for social care needs).

Review and reassessment:

  • People’s eligibility and need for Section 117 aftercare services, including the personal health budget, must be checked regularly. Changes can be made based on what’s happening in their life or if their needs change.

The main benefit of Section 117 personal health budgets is that they give free, shared funding for aftercare services that fit the person’s mental health needs.

The goal is to help them recover and join back into the community after leaving the hospital.

What Is More About Personal Health Budget (PHB)?

If you are the individual eligible for a PHB or a carer or personal assistant, then you may well be bringing more health care provision into a domestic setting.

This can present new challenges and opportunities for everyone involved.

You can create a care plan that lets you stay longer in your home, which is one of the primary benefits of the initiative. With more active support, you can benefit from this personalized approach.

Carers, PAs, and individuals must be aware of what’s involved in providing high-quality healthcare support. They need to be knowledgeable and provide care with consistent quality. This is even more vital with the new initiative.

For many, this means commissioning complex care training modules. These provide vital insights and understanding, to be more aware of the medical requirements and potential problems.

The course can ensure carers and PAs have knowledge and empathy to offer advice and support. This can help them better care for those they are assisting.

This could start from developing the vital observation skills needed in a critical care environment.

Can you monitor pulse, respiration rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, axillary, urinalysis, oral and tympanic temperatures and blood sugar levels?

If you are likely to be working and supporting people with these requirements, do you have a good level of understanding of the daily challenges they face, such as monitoring and controlling glucose levels?

The complex care courses offered by Caring for Care also include a wide range of daily needs for individuals with serious medical conditions. For example, covering epilepsy medication, stoma care, and suction and ventilation training. There are many more options too.

For more details on Personal Health Budget training and Critical Care Training Courses, contact us today. The team at Caring for Care offers intuitive training support tailored to your individual areas of interest. This will help you move forward confidently with Personal Health Budgets.

Additional Resources:

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