I’ve just got back from attending a conference organised by Skills for Care North West. I was lucky enough to have the conference fee paid for by my Local Authority. I say lucky as there were very few places taken up by people who were not paid professionals working in the Caring Industry. The conference centred on a new Government Green Paper which has not yet been published which will push forward a massive caring in the community programme. This will transform the ways in which we as carers are going to be supported and will have huge implications for budgeting and staffing changes within the Health Service and Local Authorities. The new initiatives will place finances into the hands of the people who need help so that they can then build their own care package. I attended a lecture concerned with the needs of older people as recipients of individual budgets and how this will empower the elderly to be able to stay living independently in their own homes. It seemed to me that the private agencies supplying care packages will be the main beneficiaries of these new measures. I have some experience of the direct payments system and buying in care for my husband. On the whole it worked very well because I was able to both supervise the carer and take control of the finances on a daily basis. My major problem was the way in which the private agency sent me invoices. They were complex and almost impossible to keep a careful eye on. If they overcharged on one bill, then instead of the next bill being reduced, I was sent a credit note. I would have needed a mathematical degree and many hours of spare time – neither of which I had – to be able to sort these invoices out. How I would have fared if I was using more than one agency, I hate to think!! I have to say at the end of the conference I was left with more questions than answers. How will buying in services work for us carers with all our differing circumstances? How can we help to manage these budgets and ensure that the right care package is in place? Will some elderly dementia sufferers who do not have relatives living near enough have the new guardianship law implemented? How will we ensure that the workforce coming into a dementia sufferer’s home is properly supervised and trained? Many of us have experiences of trying to put things right in care home situations and the problems, stresses and strains this puts on us. How will such disputes be resolved correctly if things do go wrong with the care package? The new Government Green Paper seems set to revolutionise Social Care. We need to be able to add our input to the way things are going. Anyone out there any ideas how we can do this?