The role of support brokers

The role of a support broker is to help someone to become independent, and although they may source a different care package to them, they should ensure the individual makes the choices.

Brokers only assist in areas in which they are requested to help, and should balance the individual's needs with providing value for money.

Some support brokers may provide advocacy as part of the service – although this should be stipulated in the contract between the individual and the broker if this is the case.

Independence

All support brokers – no matter who they are employed by – should be independent, and operate solely with the individual's best interests at heart.

The wealth of choice offered by personalisation should ensure this, although 'professional' brokers should still show no bias to the industry that employs them.

Likewise, organisations should not provide a broker if they also provide some element of the care package, as this is a conflict of interest.

Getting the most out of the system

Support brokers provide a broad service, covering everything from establishing the type of support needed to evaluating its effectiveness.

To ensure service users get the most out of the system, they should establish clear boundaries with the broker, ensuring they are aware of the areas in which support is needed and the level of support desired.

Striking a balance

Defining the responsibility of the broker ensures the system is perfect for achieving a balance between support and empowerment.

The role of support brokers – like many in the personalisation process – is to establish what is important to the service user and to work towards that goal. But this may mean striking a balance between being happy and being safe for example. Therefore, the support broker must always try to advise the service user to find this balance if the care plan is to succeed.

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What is a support broker?

In general, a support broker is someone who assists people with their individual budgets to find out what services they need and helping them to find the most suitable provider.

However, the broker's role can vary wildly depending on the local authority in which they operate and their contract with the individual; some brokers are far more involved than others.


Who are support brokers?

A support broker is a nominated individual who plans the support packages for the person who needs it. It can be:

  • A family member
  • Friend
  • Neighbour
  • A representative from a local charity or organisation
  • Someone from social services, such as a social worker or support worker

Potentially, brokers may also be 'bought' or employed – in a similar way to the financial sector – meaning those who can afford to pay for professional brokers can do so, while others may pay family members or friends from their individual budget.


Who can use support brokers?

Anyone accessing care services can use a support broker to help find the support they need. However, people should not feel that they should have a broker if they don't want one.


What can support brokers assist with?

Support brokers can assist with a variety of aspects of the care package – not just simply setting up the service. This includes:

  • Setting up an assessment of needs
  • Helping plan the support process
  • Negotiating the individual budget and its uses
  • Organising support to help manage the individual budget
  • Evaluating the service the person receives

However, the service user must delegate to the support broker which services are required and in which areas assistance is needed.


How long do brokers
stay involved for?

There is some debate as to the exact role of a broker once the support network is in place. If brokers stay involved throughout the case the likelihood is, for professional brokers at least, that they would soon acquire unmanageable case loads and get tied up by bureaucracy.

However, if brokers are required to evaluate the success of services, they need to be in regular contact with the service user. Consequently, the brokerage may have its own guidelines, or it may be down to the service user to decide what level of involvement is required.