This past year has been a very challenging one for many of us.
This may be because you've been desperately trying to make the best
use of limited resources in your organisation or you're an
individual that has faced worry and uncertainty over the provision
of your own or a family member's care and support.
I would like nothing more than to say we're through the worst
and that 2012 will bring better things for us all but we
unfortunately know that this isn't the case. However I truly
believe that with challenges there are also opportunities and we
have seen good change happen within the sector including the
increase in the number of people receiving a personal budget. In
times of adversity, what's important is that we all pull together
and nothing quite demonstrates this like the power of the Partners
in Policymaking courses and the People Power network. I have been
heartened over these past 12 months with how this group of very
special individuals has supported many people through information,
advice and friendship.
In Control's work over the past year has focused on creating a
real shift in power from the state to people and their families. In
2011, we received more than 2,000 enquiries from people looking for
advice and information in relation to health and social care and
this is something that we intend to continue and sustain.
The expansion of self-directed support into others areas of the
sector is progressing and this includes children's services.
Through our Children's programme we
have now worked with 45 children's services across the country to
support them to introduce personal budgets for children, young
people and families. Likewise in health, there have been
huge developments, particularly with the announcement that personal
health budgets are to be rolled out from October 2012 and everyone
receiving continuing healthcare will have the right to ask for a
personal health budget by 2014. This is a significant challenge and
although the Department of Health (DH) pilots are underway there is
still a considerable amount of progress to be made before health
organisations are in a position for roll out. Over the past three
years we have been working closely with health organisations and we
are also a strategic partner in the DH's pilots and a member of its
advisory board. We are also just about to embark on a large piece
of work in the North West focusing on delivering personal health
budgets for people receiving continuing health care. Work to
introduce self-directed support for the homeless and ex-offenders
is also developing well.
In June, in partnership with Lancaster University and Think
Local, Act Personal, we published the largest national
survey to date of the experiences of personal budget
recipients. This survey of more than 2,000 people revealed that
for a majority, personal budgets have a positive impact on people's
lives, particularly when it is via a direct payment. However the
survey also found that personal budgets will only make a difference
if implemented by councils in the right way and if it does not
simply become a 'box-ticking' exercise. The report, which uses In
(Personal Outcomes Evaluation Tool) shows a big gap in the progress
that authorities are making, and people's experiences of the
processes and support they receive varies widely. Other recent
research has highlighted that use of direct payments, despite
proven success, has stalled with more councils opting for managed
budgets. There is much more to be done here to ensure authentic
choice and control for people.
Last month, we also published our Community Fund Holding paper
which sets out a new approach to put public money in the hands of
communities to achieve an agreed set of outcomes and we are now
starting to work with a number of local authorities and
organisations to test out the approach.
Organisations, particularly service providers, continue to show
positivity towards personalising their services and this is
demonstrated through our ever-expanding Stay Connected network which
helps organisations to keep in touch with the latest developments
in personalisation as well as practical information and support,
including regular webinars.
For In Control, the coming year looks set to bring further
developments and successes in the expansion of self-directed
support and we will continue to advocate for true personalisation
and provide evidence that this is the road to efficiency as well as
effectiveness. We also look forward to continuing our
partnership with the sector-led, Think Local, Act Personal and helping to
encourage the adoption of its new tool - Making it Real which is a new citizen-led
approach for councils and organisations to check their progress
with personalisation and community-based support.
In the current climate, it is easy to just focus on the
challenges that lie ahead but it is really important to remain
positive and to look for solutions to overcome these problems. A
great deal has been achieved over the past few years and more than
300,000 people now have a personal budget and more choice and
control over how they live their lives. Yes, of course there is
still a great deal more to be done but focusing on what isn't
working and why not, isn't the only answer. We need to look at what
does work, why, what we can learn from this and how we can
replicate it. We then need to work very hard to share this
knowledge so effective change happens everywhere, for the majority,
not the minority.
So as we enter 2012, In Control will continue to work hard to
ensure that we bring about further positive change and that those
at risk of being excluded have the support they need to live a good
life and to make a valued contribution to society.
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and New Year.
Julie Stansfield, Chief Executive
Last Updated : 16 December 2011. Page Author: Laura Bimpson.