Solo Support Services - Client Stories

Here at Solo Support Services, we take pride in helping our clients and knowing we have been able to provide a better quality of life. It's great to hear how you feel about Solo and how we may have been able to help you and your loved ones.

If you would like to share your story or an experience with us, then please do not hesitate to contact us.


Mr E.

Location: Lancashire (Written by client's daughter).

My father is 78 years old, in 2013 he suffered from two major strokes in a gap of four months. This affected both sides of his body, lefy him paralysed on one side and meant that he lost his ability to communicate. He is currently bed-bound and fully dependent. We, as a family take full responsibility for him and he is provided with 24 hour care by ourselves and day carers.

In 2014, after being in hospital for several months, it was decided that my father would be put into a nursing home without an option of bringing him home, as we were considered incapable of taking on the responsibility of looking after him. It was heartbreaking for us as we believed we would be provided with the highest level of care and comfort within the confines of his own home. Over the course of 14 months, my father spent time in two care homes. Unfortunately the quality of care was extremely poor. This was noticeable as we visited him every day. He was consistently unwell which in part was due to the lack of personal care and eventually led him to suffer from severe chest infections.

After several attempts to bring him home that year, whilst he was admitted in hospital, we are thankful the doctors suggested we should take him home so he could spend the rest of his time around his family. My father was back with us in 2015 and gradually recovered from his infections and breathing difficulties.

The following year were were introduced to the Personal Health Budget (PHB). What attracted us to the PHB was the flexibility of the service. It gave us control in a way that let us create the best personalised care and support plan for our father. This has also enabled us to be employed by Solo Support Services to work night shifts caring for my father.

A Personal Health Budget has helped us become more involved in our fathers well being. It has allowed us to contribute in the decisions made regarding his care, giving us more choice and control over the care recieved. Being entitled to spend on his needs and what is best for him is a definite bonus. We also get the opportunity to meet different health care professionals and training instructors for help and guidance.

Having been with Solo since 2016, we have never felt any pressure and are always at ease. They deal with all aspects of the service: Completing all paperwork, Direct Payments, providing relevant training and maintaining my father's budget. Being employed by Solo has given us great experience working as a Personal Assistant and being able to work from home. It has also increased the time spent with him and has further developed the closeness of our relationship. The hard work and dedication our manager Roisin has put in to our Father's care plan is impeccable. She will resolve any problems that arise and commit to gaining the best possible outcome with regards to my father's care and budget.

Through all the ups and downs, after joining Solo we can happily say that we're grateful to be involved with such a great team. They are very supportive, starting off with Debbie and now Roisin, who is always approachable and connected.

With my father being unwell for five and a half years now, I am thankful his care is in good hands. To be able to take care of a family member in their own home is an achievement in itself. Although my father has lost his speech and understanding I am pretty certain he is aware of his surroundings and he wouldn't choose to be anywhere else.

- Been with Solo since 2016


Mr R Pratt

Location: Warwickshire

Gill and I are 74 years old and retired. Significantly, Gill was a health visitor for 25 years with special responsibility for disabled children. Gill was diagnosed with Muscular Degeneration about ten years ago and is unable to drive. She is only able to read descriptions with a 6x magnifier. Writing is similarly affected. 

We did not want direct payments, but experienced a litany of problems with three providers over fifteen years. Very reluctantly we accepted the suggestion made by a respected care with our last provider to move to direct payments. 

Initially, direct payments was extremely onerous. It was he worst job I have ever had, necessitating a considerable amount of evening and weekend 'working'! All of this was unpaid of course. However, under direct payments we have been able to recruit our own carers who are significantly more effective than many of the staff who worked for providers. In October 2016 we were taken to an employment tribunal by a carer who claimed £30,000 for unfair dismissal. Although the case was dismissed, we endured an unbelievably stressful 4 1/2 months. My report, the flaws in Direct Payments for 24/7 services in Warwickshire is freely available.

The move to a third-party agreement with Solo has completely transformed the operation of our daughter's care package. We have an excellent manager, our care staff now undergo training and Solo can provide professional support over a range of issues. 

Given the problems we faced, principally with employment tribunal and a 3-month staff absence for Mental Health Issues, I was very close to cancelling direct payments and leaving the local authority to a find provides. Solo have made it possible to continue with direct payments and retain our now excellent care team. I see my report and 'Right to choose care hit by Council cuts', Frances Ryan, 'The Guardian, p38, 7th December 2016. 

Every aspect of the operation of our daughter's care package is significantly better with Solo's professional support. In my view, very few family carers have the necessary range of skills to manage direct payments on their own. The support provided by agencies funded by the local authority, however good, is not legally binding. Additionally, advice and support is available as a free add on to home employment insurance. In our case, this advice was only available by telephone and email from a call center in Manchester for he majority of family carers this inadequate.

- Been with Solo Support Services since December 2017


J.

Location: Lancashire

My son was diagnosed with cancer at a young age. This left him with severe learning difficulties and complex health and social needs. He also has epilepsy. The cancer was in multiple areas of his body and the last one had gone to his brain causing a stroke. This left him with weakness on one side, he requires 2:1 care.

After having Direct Payments to employ staff to support him, I began to look to see if he could have his own team of staff that was person centred around his health and social needs. Having a Personal Health Budget has allowed us to do this.

The Personal Health Budget means we are in control which allows him to have the flexibility and fullfilled life that suits him. We don't have support staff who he has only met a couple of times turning up to take him out, then have to be back by a certain time as they have to move on to someone else. His days are planned around him and we get to build up a team around his needs. We have input and choice in who cares for him by being involved in the process of employing the staff. We also know who is caring for him and who is coming into our home.

Solo take all the stress away from dealing with any issues around the HR side of employing staff. Solo holds the budget and deals with the money side of his receipts and anything he needs that is in the Care Plan. They also make sure that all the compulsory training is carried out alongside any additional training which maybe needed. This all helps and allows us to just deal with caring for my son.

(We could not have dealt with the) employment of staff and also any issues around staff and training (without the support of Solo). it is great that Solo also handles the budget which helps us with audits etc. It is so nice that we don't have that side of the stress and we can just concentrate on caring! Thank you Solo! 

- Been with Solo Support Services since September 2013.


Location: Lincolnshire

I have Profound intellectual and Multiple Disabilities (PIMD), so my mum and dad are writing this on my behalf. 

My name is Rebecca, I am 48 and live in my own purpose-built, wheelchair-accessible bungalow adjacent to my parents' house in Lincolnshire. Because of my level of disability I require one-to-one support, both day and night. 

I don't have mental capacity. I have uncontrolled Lennox Gastaut epilepsy, and cannot walk or talk. 

I have lived in my bungalow for 22 years and am really happy there. I need some specialist equipment, such as a tilting bath, a ceiling hoist, and a bed that rocks and tilts to prevent pressure sores. 

Although I have lots of problems I do have a really great life when I feel OK. I can go out in my wheelchair-accessible car and love to visit intresting places, especially if I can lunch out as well! 

For some years my support package was provided by either domicliary or healthcare companies, and they were not person-centred enough to keep my happy. In October 2017, after an eighteen-month struggle, my parents managed to get NHS Continuing Healthcare funding for a Peronal Health Budget (PHB) for me, and it has made such a difference to my life. My support staff now help me to do more things at home and they are really good at finding things to keep me stimulated. 

The companies that had previously been commissioned bu our local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to provide support for me, seemed to be forcused only on my health issued and I become bored, then depressed, because I had nothing to look forward to. 

Sometimes, people came to support me that didn't know anything about me, and had no idea what sort of person I was and what I leked to do. I would be left in bed for hours and lost interest in my home and the people around me. My family were not encouraged to be involved with my life and had little say in the recruitment of staff. 

My mum and dad found out about Personal Health Budgets, and they liked the idea that by having a budget they could recruit and employ a new regular team of support workers who would work with me in a much more person-centred way. 

My family have been able to actively recruit ned staff, so they were able to choose people that would be right for me - I was also able to meet the applicants and everybody could see how I responded to them.

My support workers have now received bespoke training which helps them to deal wth some of my health problems more efficiently. 

My parents are now involved in the administration of my service on a day-to-day basis, and have been able to design record sheets that fint my needs, and help my support staff to know what I have been doing with my days. 

Mum and Dad organise all my medication for me and out them into boxes, which is a much safer way of having my medications administered. In the past we had quite a lot of problems with medications and sometimes they went missing or not giving.

I am much happier now that I have support staff who know me well, and want to make my life better. I am doing some really interesting things and have started being more vocal, and am much more aware of my environment.  

Solo has been brilliant in helping my family to find the right people to join my support team. They have given lots of advise and support, especially with the advertising and organising interviews.

By having the right support workers, with the right level of training, everybody has been able to encourage e to recover some of my lost independence. I feel really proud when I do something to help my support worker, like lifting my leg to have my socks put on, or pushing my arm into a sleeve. These are very tiny achievements but I do enjoy doing things, rather than waiting for somebody to do it for me. 

My team gives me every encouragement to participate in every aspect of my life. I am fully involved in all my daily living activities and enjoy going out, meeting new people, and exploring new experiences. 

I am beginning to enjoy life again. 

I think my Mum and Dad would want to answer this one! 

"After exploring the different ways of using a PHB we decided we did not want to take the responsibility of employing the support teamm meeting the rigorous requirements of employment law, statutory contributions, pensions etc and liked the idea of using a third party organisation to take on this role. 

After a lot of internet searching we discovered Solo Support Services, a Nottingham-based third party provider that specialises in supporting people who have a Personal Health Budget. 

Solo has taken on the responsibility of being the employer and we are mightily relieverd, because we would not have been able to handle these additional burdens. 

Even when we were in the early stages of applying for a PHB for Rebecca, Solo Support Services gave us a huge amount of help and advice. The areas where they helped us the most were; negotiating with the CCG, recruitment, budgeting, staff training and employment law. 

One of my sisters has been employed by Solo Support to manage my support team. This means that my care and support is now monitored more closelu and on a regular basis, which makes things much safer for me. 

In their capacity as third-party provider, Solo maintains Rebecca's budget, which we are able to monitor online at any time.

Solo has maintained a highly professional dialogue and relationship with the CCG and is always willing to neogtiate issues with regards to the budget etc. 

We can say quite categorically, that we would not have considered proceading with a PHB, had it not been for the support provided by Solo from the outset. They have been brilliant"

- Been with Solo Support Services since October 2017


Miss C

Location: Burnley

"Since becoming paralysed at 16 I have had many different experiences with care. it was a slow start getting a suitable package together, but after some time we found a company and a process in which care was provided that I fet would allow me to carry on as before my accident.

Over the years I was incredibly lucky in that I had some of the most amazing girls work for me. They were the full package, and everything just slotted pefectly into place. yes they helped me with my boring day to day, but they were also friends. People I enjoyed being around, and still to this day do, even though they are now scattered around the world. They allowed for me to find myself again. Being there so I could continue my studies, be a messy drunken twenty something, go and see the shows and gigs i wanted to see, even just go to the supermarket so I could choose my own food. Giving me the freedom to simply just live. 

Yet as time went by, the consistency I needed to be able to have trust in people was lost. I was sent new PAs every couple of weeks, was given information so late that there was no choice but to take who ever was available.

When that consistency is gone, the feeling of having any control over your life is gone, you lose yourself again.

The confidence you found, that independence you felt. Slowly it's lost.

You feel more like a burden as you are having to rely on those you shouldn't. You feel selfish in that everything has to be be on your terms more than ever, those drinks out, are drinks at your house. Cinema night, is now a film in your bedroom, a meal out is now a takeaway. Friends and family won't even have a second thought about it, but they're thoughts you can't squash, and thoughts that only intensify as time goes by.

We started the journey into moving from being tied to a company, to direct payments, wanting the control over who I employ, when I have them, giving me the control, the consistency needed to have every opportunity eveyone else does.

I say journey, because oh my it was. The process went from, being a projected few months to finally getting the budget approved 18 months later. It was frustrating, stressful and there were periods i was so low I just didn't know if it was worth it.

We started with Solo when we first applied knowing we'd need help with book keeping, recruitment, all those details that would be out of our knowledge. What we didn't know was how vital their support would be.

Once we were in a place where Roisin became involved we hoped we were at a point where we could move smoothly into having a solid care package and move on to recruitment. Unforunately this wasn't the case. i believe it was the tiresome hard work and support from Roisin and Solo that pushed things forward. Working as someone who could relay our feelings about how the process was going. Someone that knew what should be being done and pushed for it, and someone to offer reassurance when it felt like to much. 

If it wasn't for them I don't believe we'd yet be in a place where we have the beginnings of a team of PAs I'm both confident and comfortable with.

The ongoing support is invaluable, whether it but a guiding hand to help with things like rotas or timesheets, or knowing that there is somewhere else there to offer a futher authoritative role if there's ever an issue with a PA.

I couldn't be more thankful and grateful for the experience I have had.

- Been with Solo Support Services since April 2017

 


Mr A. Turrell

Location: Nottinghamshire

"I did a PHD and became a Senior Lecturer after years in university, I then went on to work for the NHS specialising in Neurology, Neuro Surgery and Trauma which is where, ironically, I am now treated.

I now have a Third Party Arrangement, so that I don't have to worry about how to recruit staff, do payroll, as although I am well qualified, my illness has left me with cognitive problems such as poor memory and poor organisation skills.

Having a Personal Health Budget has changed my life in many ways. I don't have to go into residential care anymore and can visit the hospital a lot less. It means I can chose my own staff, and even have a carer in Wales, as I have a challet there and like to visit during the Spring and Summer. I can visit friends and family too, it adds 'life to years not years to life'. It helps me not to be defined by my illness."

- Been with Solo Support Services for 2 years


Ms K. McDaniel

Location: Nottinghamshire

"I am a full time carer for my sister who has Huntington's Disease. I share my life and my home with her, and I also care for my husband. We were initially attracted to having a Personal Health Budget to be able to employ our own staff with hours that fit our lives, and have the freedom to spend money on what is really best for my sister.

Working with Solo is excellent, they do all the major paperwork and keep on track of everything, but still give us the freedom to "live". Without Solo I wouldn't have been able to to organise the required training for the care staff or have been able to arrange and complete paying them. One of the best decisions I ever made was taking a Personal Health Budget for my sister and working with Solo!"

- Been with Solo Support Services since June 2013


Mr G. Hathaway

Location: Kidderminster

"On December 2nd 2013, my son James almost died from Aspiration Pneumonia. He was in hospital, after aspirating in his respite centre, for 10 days and it took nearly 4 months before we could say he was 'back to normal'. When speaking with James' clinical nurse one day, I just wondered if there was a way that I could stay at home and look after him so that he doesn't need respite anymore. After 13 months, I was glad to say that we had a Personal Health Budget in place, and James never went into respite again. By having a Personal Health Budget it has taken so much stress out of my life. Now if James is ill he can stay at home and will be well looked after. It also means that James can take time away from the day centre and enjoy days out with his family. This would never have been possible without the Personal Health Budget.

Although it was quite stressful as I had no idea what legalities were involved with a Personal Health Budget, Solo Support Services have taken all the stress out of the legal side of things which allowed me to get on with the things that were imoprtant to me, like looking after my son. Solo never make you feel foolish, even if you ask the silliest of questions. I chose to use Solo's third party option because they are skilled and have all the experience of paperwork, legalities and finances like paying staff and day care charges. Solo Support Services provided such valuable information on what you can do with your Personal Budget."

- Been with Solo Support Services since May 2015


"Mr A"

Location: Preston

"From birth we have dealt with several agencies to meet our daughter's growing health needs. Both I and my wife have had to reduce our working hours to ensure one of us is always available to meet any healthcare needs. We wanted to safeguard and manage our daughter's future, to take control and do what is best for her rather than being dictated to by agencies. If done properly, a Personal Health Budget can be truly person-centred. Solo have a "can-do culture" with being approachable and efficient and have made our lives easier."

- Been with Solo Support Services since July 2014



 Our Personal Solo Support Services story

"In September 2007, I received an alarming call from my close stepmother, Nicola (founder of Solo Support Services) informing me of a horrific accident my dad had been involved in and instructing myself and my sister to meet her at the Intensive Care Unit as soon as possible. This was the day that changed our lives.

For us all to be told to prepare for the worst and say our last words, it was unbearable. Doctors shortly found a heartbeat and were able to declare my dad was still alive and had serious hyperthermia. After 10 long hours of hyperthermia recovery, we found out that his spinal chord had been shattered at C3/C4 and has left him completely paralysed from the neck down and that he was unable to breath alone or speak. This was such an awful time for my Stepmum Nicola, my 2 younger sisters and myself, and more importantly my poor dad who's independence had been taken from him. After a long recovery process of learning to breath and speak again, and having to come to terms with this new way of life, my stepmother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer during this time. Neither of them being able to be there for one another was such an awful time, but we all pulled it through and we coped with what was thrown at us, at least we all still had each other.

We received some very unhelpful "help" with regards to the care of my dad (Stephen Kirk) Nicola was inspired by this to fight for a Personal Health Budget to personalise my dads care, to get staff who he felt comfortable around and equipment which would help him to be independent and live his life to the fullist. It was then that Nicola created and started to build Solo Support Services, a company to help others just like ourselves make the most of their lives and keep their independence and 'normal' lives.

Our lives changed as we could now do things together again as a family; picnics in the park, family holidays to cornwall, meals out for birthdays. But unfortunately, in 2014 Nicola lost her battle with cancer and we all lost her from our lives, she fought so hard through her cancer for my dad and our family and we will forever be eternally grateful. She will always live on in our hearts and through Solo Support Services."

- Written by Stephen Kirk (Director) and daughter Gabriella

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Here at Solo Support Services we take pride in helping our clients and knowing we have been able to provide a better quality of life. It's great to hear how they feel about Solo, and how we may have been able to help them and their loved ones.