Leeds care funding link-up puts Colin in control

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Colin McDonnell studies at college, plays sport, has a passion for technology and gaming and enjoys a busy social life.

The 22-year-old, who has severe and complex disabilities due to a metabolic disorder, is supported by a team to assist him.

Now, Colin has become the first person in Leeds to benefit from a new funding arrangement which has allowed him to complete his college studies.

He receives a combined Personal Health Budget (PHB) thanks to NHS Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group and Leeds City Council working together.

Personal health budgets can be allocated to people with long-term conditions and disabilities, enabling them to choose the care and support that will suit them best.

Colin, from Chapeltown, chose to use his budget to employ his own team of personal assistants (PAs), making the arrangement simpler than before when he had separate carers in the different environments.

That is helping him with his BTEC course in IT and Business Studies, in situations like when he is studying in the library and wants to stay longer than planned, his PAs – who help at college with note taking, communication, eating and getting around in his wheelchair – can stay too.

Previously he would have had to stop studying and go home.

He said: “I feel more at ease with my own staff as I am able to be more independent and communicate with them to take control of situations and find solutions.”

Outside of college, Colin is passionate about technology, computers and gaming. He helps out in workshops at the Apple store in Leeds and with fundraising events for Special Effects, a gaming charity for disabled people.

He also volunteers at the William Merrit Disabled Living Centre in Rodley, Leeds, which helps disabled people by providing advice and the opportunity to try out equipment to help with daily living.

His social life has also flourished and he enjoys visiting the theatre and cinema and plays the sport Boccia.

Colin’s mum Susan McDonnell said: “The continuity of the PAs has completely changed things for Colin and since being granted the PHB his social life is unbelievable.”

Jennie Smith, Colin’s joint care manager, added: “It is really rewarding to see this young man being more independent, being able to go to college and achieve the things that are important to him.

“He is able to do things that he simply could not do before.

“He is now an advocate for other people in similar situations.”

The aim of combined Personal Health Budgets is to give people more choice, control and flexibility over their care and support.

Sue Kendal, PHB development lead at NHS Leeds South and East CCG, said: “They provide the opportunity for individuals to have more say on how they want their future care and support to be.

“Colin’s situation is a great example of what can be achieved through working collaboratively with him and his family and in partnership with the local authority.”