Meet Jasmine...

Direct Payments: Meet Jasmine

Jasmine is a Direct Payments customer from Taunton in Somerset. This is her story about her experience with Enham Trust.

I feel like I have my life back... I'm in control.

My name is Jasmine. I’m 20 and I live in Taunton in Somerset. I was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). This is a muscle wasting disease which gets progressively worse, and now I use a wheelchair.

Mum was my main carer until I was nine, when she had the first of my three brothers. We’ve used care agencies since then to help me at home.

I did my GCSEs and then studied photography, but since I was 16 I’ve wanted more independence. So I went on the council waiting list for a wheelchair accessible home and two years ago moved into my very own ground floor flat. I was 18 and absolutely loved it – my own place and I didn’t have anyone to answer to!

Unfortunately the care agencies weren’t working out. It was hopeless. People didn’t turn up on time, or didn’t arrive at all.

I knew about having Direct Payments but hadn’t gone down that route as I didn’t want the extra pressure of employing people. I thought it would all be too difficult. I had just moved into my flat and had other priorities.

But then I started working part-time for the Compass Carers project which offers advice and emotional support to unpaid carers of all ages.

I absolutely love my work. It’s challenging but rewarding, and hopefully I bring a special perspective as someone who has had carers all my life.

It was Compass who encouraged me to change to Direct Payments and my social worker referred me to Enham Trust.

The process was really easy, mainly due to my advisor Alice who is absolutely brilliant…!

She guided me through all the paperwork involved in employing a Personal Assistant (PA), and there was always someone on the end of a phone if I had a problem.

Mum was quite sceptical to begin with. She didn’t think it would work as well as it has, but she’s completely changed her mind!

Direct Payments have honestly changed my life.

Friends said the paperwork would be a nightmare, but in fact it was fine, especially with Alice there to give me guidance about everything from finding a carer to the tax side and what’s involved in becoming a boss and handling an employee properly.

I advertised on a special Facebook jobs page and employed the first two girls I met! Sarah, my main PA, and Katie come in for evenings, some sleep-ins and mornings.

I was let down by carers so much before I feel like I have my life back!

I used to have to come back at a certain time to go to bed, because that was when the agency sent the carer. You don’t want that when you’re 20.

Now what I say goes and I have my freedom. I am in control…

I didn’t realise how down I was until Enham Trust helped me employ my own Personal Assistants. Knowing their advisors are on the end of a phone is hugely reassuring.

I’m 20. Now I can do the things I like, just as anyone else my age would want to!

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