A CHARITY boss has slammed the social care system as unsuitable for people with brain injuries.

Headway Oxfordshire chief executive Jamie Miller is concerned that giving patients personal budgets could compromise care for those who are unable to make informed decisions.

The brain injury charity, based in Kennington, is fighting to sustain services after its funding from Oxfordshire County Council ended last year.

Mr Miller fears social care nationwide is 'being disassembled before our eyes' and new systems neglect people with complex cognitive issues.

He said: "The personalisation system itself is not fit for purpose when applied to neurological conditions. Some people lack insight into their condition or have the ability to plan anything, even the smallest of daily tasks like dressing themselves appropriately or cooking for themselves.

"Brain injury is incredibly complex. You might have an accident but not be diagnosed until years down the line when your life has fallen apart. People are dumped back into the community with no support."

The Government rolled out personal budgets this time two years ago, making it a rule that adults entitled to social care could choose and plan their own care.

Advocates claim the system gives control and independence, but Mr Miller said it is unsuitable for people with severe brain trauma.

He said: "Many people have no idea they even have a condition, they have no awareness of self to realise anything is wrong. You're saying 'choose and control your own care' to someone who sometimes doesn't understand or have the ability to make informed decisions."

The system does allow a council or a third party such as a family member to manage the budget, but Mr Miller said many are not getting that support.

Personal budgets are means-assessed and may require service users to pay for part of their care, which has also necessitated Headway to introduce contracts to ensure users can cover costs.

Mr Miller said: "That completely turns our relationship on its head. As a charity we are responsible for chasing payments.

"These are people with profound disabilities who survive on benefits. Often these people are told they are on such a level of benefits that they have to contribute to their own care. These barriers stop them getting what they need - I personally find that offensive."

He said the problem was not peculiar to Oxfordshire but happening nationwide, adding: "Nobody seems to understand the brevity of the consequences."

Headway has managed to improve its centre in Bagley Wood Road despite losing council funding amid wider cuts last year, which accounted for almost half of its income.

It continues to fundraise for a neuro-gym and provide rehabilitation and advice for 450 people every year.

Mr Miller stressed his hope that the recent appointment of a new director of adult social care in the county might see opportunities for open dialogue and partnership going forward. 

He said he wanted to be 'a part of the solution' and would continue to promote positive relationships with authorities.

Brain injury survivor Andrew Baker, 28, said he relies on his support worker at Headway to help him make important decisions such as how to use his personal budget.

The Didcot fundraiser, who previously launched a petition to help save the under-threat branch, added: “It’s hard to understand when you’ve got cognitive impairments. It’s quite hard to make decisions and be forward-thinking. It’s really good to have the support at Headway.”