• Creating a Community Where Everyone Belongs

My Life Support

My Life Support is a community of ordinary people from the towns of Wigan and Leigh, a community which over the past five years has come together to work for a better life for local people.

We are passionate about achieving real change. Our passion stems from the fact that each of us has had direct experience of struggle – struggle because of poverty, disability, the lack of educational opportunities, or sometimes simply as a result of who we are and how others see us. We have struggled to be part of mainstream society, to make a contribution to that society, and very often we have struggled to discover our true identity and how we can live a good life on our own terms. Some of us have experienced these things directly for ourselves, some of us have close family members who have had to struggle and been excluded in this way, and for some it is friends or neighbors. Members of the team at My Life Support have worked in education or the care system for periods of time, and we have seen that traditional approaches often fail the people we care about. This is not usually because of a lack of compassion, instead it is more often because things start with an unhelpful set of assumptions – a focus on the question of “what’s the matter?” without giving enough thought to “what matters?” to the person seeking help. Traditional services start from the best of intentions, but their staff don’t always seem able to really get to know the person and stick with them, walk with them as we say, when the going gets really tough.

Evolution of My Life Support

We set up My Life Support in 2017, as a result of feedback from families who were telling us about a number of issues they were experiencing:

Staffing: 

  • Recruitment (recruiting reliable quality people) 
  • Staff cover (holidays/ sickness/maternity) 
  • Staff training 
  • Rotas/hours and staff management (time consuming) 
  • Staff retention 
  • Matching part-time staff to part-time hours

Managing budgets:

  •  Understanding of pay scales – managing pay dependent on level of support required
  • Clarity on use of money 
  • Contacting the Direct Payments Team 
  • Paying wages at a competitive rate
  • Money (management and funding) 
  • Books/payroll 
  • Working with budgets and getting most out of the budget given (Direct Payments at times seemed low) 
  • General financial management

Feeling supported:

  • Support from local authorities (it can feel like you are left to your own devices) 
  • Meaningful activities 
  • Finding appropriate activities/group activities 
  • Independent person for advice when required for issues with staff
  • Policies of statutory authorities 
  • What to do in an emergency 
  • Understanding employment laws 
  • Looking at a long-term support plan 
  • Training/courses for families to keep up to date with policies/laws and for general support
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Vision and Mission

The vision for My Life Support is simple: for people who need support to have a good life. Our belief is if we all give a little, we will all gain and grow together. 

Our goals are based on the Citizenship Model and focuses on six key themes:

  • Self-determination – to have real choice and control,but understanding that the more choice and control you have, the more responsibility you need to take.

  • Direction – to have a plan for the future, no matterwhat age you are.

  • Money – to be financially secure by having a sustainable income and money for support, as required.

  • Housing – to live in the right environment, with peopleyou choose to be with.

  • Support – to have support provided in a way which makes sense to you.

  • Community – to have friendships, relationships and be able to contribute to you community in a meaningful

Our mission is to work in a person-centred way with people of all ages who may need support to achieve a good life for themselves, and to enable people feel in control of their own lives, have the emotional support to get through the tough times and have all the information and help they need to work out their own solutions.

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What we offer

We have developed two elements to My Life Support.

The first option is about helping individuals to make a plan, manage their money (budget) and manage the support arrangements they purchase with that budget. We also help individuals to manage the ‘continuing conversation’ with the council. We use the term ‘continuing conversation’ to refer to the exchange between the individual when they first come for help (“assessment”) through the support planning process, service provision and “review”. One familiar way of portraying this continuing conversation was set out by Simon Duffy of In Control more than ten years ago.

The second option involves My Life Support in taking on responsibility for employing staff and for managing the support service for the individual.  

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Option 1

Personal Budget, Direct Payment, Personal Health Budgets and self-funder support services.

What are they and who are they for? 

These are a variety of options that enable individuals to employ their own support or help them to find the right agency or provider, or even do both. Individuals can choose one element or take a pick and mix approach. Our mission is for individuals to have real choice and control, without all the hassle. We are also very interested in how individuals sustain high quality support, so we have introduced services that help to keep an eye on things and resolve problems as they arise.

Creative support planning

This looks at the money individuals have available for their care and support and explores a wide range of options to achieve the best outcomes, get good value for money and achieve a good life. 

We explore how an individual wants to be in control, what they want to achieve, maximising their income, housing options, what good support looks like for them and how they want to access the community. Although they may have a support plan, does it really look creatively at the way the money is being spent? We can help individuals to make sure the money works as hard as possible to get them a great life. We also will consider the things that money can’t buy, such as friendships, community and being in the company of others. Our experience in connecting people to a great life is vast.

Action planning

Once the support plan has been completed, the most difficult part is making it happen. We will develop a clear action plan to ensure everything is thought through in detail and put into place. We will work through the key areas such as housing, recruiting staff and will support individuals to make this happen. We will explore the options and consider the times it will take to make everything fall into place.

Recruitment support

We have a unique recruitment support service, which is called ‘Pathways to Employment’. We believe this is such a critical and important role, so people should be screened and have some basic training before they are matched to an individual. We run the recruitment and training sessions up to eight times per year, depending on demand. We find, train, screen and match around 250 personal assistants per year and can assist to create new teams, or to replenish existing teams as people move on.

Finding the right support service or agency

Some individuals may have a preference to use an agency or provider. We are developing an easy to access e-marketplace of organisations that provide a wide range of care and support and help individuals to find what they are looking for within their budget. 

We will help individuals to shortlist, scrutinise, interview and select the right organisation for them.

Developing a micro market

With our vast connections and relationships in the local community, we have found many people with skills to offer. We also have many young people that we are nurturing, who also have a lot to give. Harnessing and hosting such skills will develop innovative micro provision that should respond to low level need across the community. This will be hosted via our technology platform, making it easy to access for all.

Safeguarding support services

With our vast connections and relationships in the local community, we have found many people with skills to offer. We also have many young people that we are nurturing, who also have a lot to give. Harnessing and hosting such skills will develop innovative micro provision that should respond to low level need across the community. This will be hosted via our technology platform, making it easy to access for all.

Early intervention and wellbeing support

We offer, by referral, a bespoke service for individuals who could be seen as ‘vulnerable’ in the community, to support them to access their GP, hospital appointments and administrative tasks, such as being an appointee. Other services we can offer include: handyperson, gardening and emergency dog-sitting during a hospital admission. However, these will be need to be arranged in advance wherever possible, so that they can be triggered and commissioned as required.

Payroll

We will administer all aspects of your payroll, ensuring that the staff team are paid on time and all payments to HMRC are accurately paid.

HR Support

Employing staff is definitely not an easy job. Our experienced Human Resources team will help and advise individuals on all aspects of employment, from managing, supervising and appraisals, to sick leave, maternity cover and disciplinary and more. We will work closely with insurers to ensure the advice given is interpreted and delivered correctly.

Financial support

We will manage the personal budget in an open and 

transparent way using our ‘virtual wallet’ IT system. This enables individuals to have sight in real time of their personal budget and any transactions coming in and out. It lends itself well for easy auditing and has all the information in one place. This list is not exhaustive as we have access and can source training of all requirements.

Training and development

We can facilitate a wide range of training courses, as we have access to a variety of trainers. We host several days throughout the year including:

  • Values training
  • Mandatory training, such as first aid, moving and handling, etc. 
  • Health and social care qualifications, from Level 1 and 2 and upwards
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Specialist subjects, such as autism, challenging behaviour, mental health, epilepsy, etc.
  • Individualised training packages for those with complex health conditions
  • Asset Based Community Development (ABCD)
  • Advocacy training 
  • Disability awareness training
  • Personal finance support

For some individuals, managing their own income is a challenge as there is no-one close by to facilitate this process for them. My Life is happy to act as an ‘appointee’ for those who lack capacity and need help to ensure their bills are paid on time. We will use the virtual wallet to enable other members of the family to oversee the activity in real time.

Monitoring a service or agency

We recognise that having a loved one who needs care places a big responsibility on the relatives. This could be an elderly relative living at home needing care, going in or living in residential care. We understand that the biggest issue for many families is that of time, in particular when a relative doesn’t live close by and has all of the pressures of their own family responsibilities. 

My Life can offer an experienced matched member of our team, assigned specifically to the family’s relative. He/she will go and visit their relative unannounced, as often as they like. We will ensure that the provider of the care is fully meeting the individual’s needs and we will intervene as required, as well as reporting back direct to the family.

This can be a regular commitment or something families may just need because they are going away on holiday.

Monitoring outcomes and reviews

My Life has an experienced team who can attend any meeting with reference to an individual or their loved one. This could be a review, re-assessment or anything else that is required.

Futures planning

For many families, the fear of what will happen to their loved one if something happens to them is so scary. Individuals don’t seem to make any plans at all. However, in our experience, when something does happen it is very difficult to pick up the pieces for the families left behind. 

My Life has an experienced team who will work with individuals and families to develop a futures plan, which explores everything from wills and trusts, to who will oversee the care of a loved one, to developing essential lifestyle plans that put into place everything that needs to happen in the event of ageing, illness, losing capacity or sudden death. We will hold on to the plans, which can be a critical part of an individual’s letter of wishes, and will trigger requests in the event of anything happening to the primary carer.

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Option 2

Third party budget management.

What are they and who are they for? 

For many people, the responsibility of employing staff to work in their home can seem very daunting, especially when you are dealing with something as important as personal care. 

My Life Support is registered with the Care Quality Commission and will act as the legal employer of personal assistants, support workers and carers, working with individuals at every step to make sure they and their family are happy. The individual will still make all the decisions about how their personal [health] budget is allocated, who works for them and what they do, but we will also be able to support them with recruitment, training, other aspects of employment and anything else they may need to manage their budget effectively. 

This option is known as a ‘third party arrangement’. We can be commissioned by the NHS, Social Care or directly by individuals. Whichever way, the individual is in control, so they can live the life they want to and achieve the outcomes that are important to them.

Individual client bank account

We will hold the budget on the individual’s behalf in a separate client deposit account. We will support the individual with financial planning and reporting, helping them to keep track of their money. They will be able to view their bank account should they wish, as well as accessing monthly financial reports online.

Payroll

The individual will report the PA hours worked to us on a monthly basis and we will process staff pay and payslips. Employees have the choice of either paper or online payslips.

Performance management

Full support will be provided should any performance issues or employee concerns arise.

Co-ordination of training

We will organise training for the individual’s staff, both mandatory and for personal development.

Personalised risk assessments

We will conduct risk assessments bespoke to the individual, taking a common sense approach to risk enablement.

Employer and Public Liability Insurance

Because the staff are employed by My Life Support, if a problem arises the individual will be fully covered by our insurance.

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Registered charity number 1167858 - Registered office: Thompson House Equestrian Centre, Off Pepper Lane, Standish, Wigan, Lancashire, WN6 0PP

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