Debating the future of personalisation

When we published a blog post by our head of operations Martin Routledge and other colleagues- 'Personalisation: give up or move on?' - it created real debate and discussion about views on the state of personalisation today.

Martin Routledge, Alex Fox, Miro Griffiths and Vidhya Alakeson asked the question 'Is it a case of give up or move on for personalisation?'

They themselves were inspired to write this blog by the huge amount of current discussion around personalisation in public services - how far it has come and the barriers and challenges being faced.

They noted that for some there is a growing sense of the failure of personalisation, for some: "…the delivery of the policy in social care has been largely unsuccessful and its extension into other areas - especially health, is really unwise".

Their reflection was that there are different reasons for these views:

"Some people have a sense of personalisation failing because they are passionate about people getting choice and control and are disappointed that things haven't moved faster or better or included everyone to date".

"Others believe that some of the mechanisms for delivery are not working or not the right approaches"

"Some see personalisation as primarily a government driven agenda or cover for cuts and oppose it for these reasons."

Martin and colleagues share many of these concerns - In Control's helpline gets many emails and calls from people trying to make personalisation work for themselves or their families but finding themselves stuck in a bureaucratic swamp or inflexible rules. Others are experiencing the sometimes dramatic impact of funding cuts. In this situation it is not all surprising that many feel personalisation is not working well.

In Control and partners, as well as supporting individuals and groups, have made strong representation on these issues. An open letter to Care Services Minister, Norman Lamb (link), said;

"..research and experience are increasingly showing us what works to really improve outcomes and extend choice and control. The problem is that in too many places these things are not being done.  For example, in respect of personal budgets, we too often find unsuitable systems for resource allocation, burdensome support planning approaches not controlled by people themselves, rigid rules on spend, social workers not trusted to make judgements, people left without information advice and advocacy, under-developed markets and restrictive preferred provider lists. There are the places where, in the name of controlling spend, more money is spent, sometimes through unnecessary process, sometimes through not allowing creative use of budgets".

But the aim of the current blog was to look forward. On top of the changes to local delivery of personal budgets that are desperately needed in many places, Martin, Alex, Miro and Vidhya felt there is a need to look at some ideas about how to drive major improvements and make suggestions for policymakers and others.

The resulting blog presented some of these ideas and asked for comment and suggestion to help develop them further.

Your response showed just how important this issue is to so many of you.

And the biggest response was about what personalisation is, and should be, with many of you strongly agreeing it isn't about processes, it's about people.

'No matter what people do to us or say… it's how it makes us feel that counts. The 280 people who passed through the ICE conference know what good looks like, for many they had never even heard of personalisation... but they know what it feels like to belong,' commented 'Caroline'.

'The difference integrated Health and Social Care Personal Budgets can make is so key to the future of our support to citizens to be in control,' added Tracey Bush.

'…we need to restate the end goal as being inclusion & reappraise from that perspective,' agreed Neil Crowther.

Some people made suggestions about the need to communicate and bring more people along in the drive towards independent living and inclusion.

Jon Hyslop talks about the need to ensure the public is 'brought with us' to avoid misconceptions around this being 'special funding'.

Jayne Knight agreed saying 'Personalisation has to enter the hearts and minds to be the way we are all in society.' She goes on to say something very powerful 'I would feel a lifetimes work had been for nothing if a better future for all became consigned to history. United we stand. It's a civil rights matter not to be taken lightly and worth fighting or tooth and nail. Don't complicate it by too much process, win hearts and minds,' which was picked up in many comments - this desire to ensure that personalisation continues to develop and grow, not fail at this critical juncture.

Some pointed out the effects of spending cuts in their experience: 'Well it all sounds very nice but ignores the fact that most people get nothing! No funding, no support, no budget. Go near the service providers for help and they crucify you. How dare we think about getting support when they need the money for coffee and biccies!'

These comments are just some of those that ignited further discussion on Twitter. You can read a round up of what everyone has been saying by visiting our Storify page.

You can read the full blog here.

We also published another blog post last week by our chief executive Julie Stansfield that sparked some debate. Her blog, 'Small steps can lead to big change' can be read here.

There are also many other blogs that have been discussed the current state of personalisation and the need to look at where we are, and how far we have come. Jenny Morris, blogger and champion of independent living, has also written a blog post around this topic, 'If you don't know your history' which you can read on her blog site.

Martin Routledge has also written further blogs on the future and current state of personalisation. Read his blog, Personalisation: how to avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of success, here.

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Last Updated : 26 February 2014. Page Author: Laura Bimpson.