Personalisation is working but we must remove obstacles

Community Care has published the results of its annual personalisation survey. Martin Routledge has responded to the findings with the below blog for Community Care.


Community Care's annual survey hows personalisation is delivering benefits for users despite problems of implementation; now it is time to remove those obstacles, says Martin Routledge.

The annual Community Care survey offers a helpful temperature check on what readers - mostly professionals and managers - see as the current state of play with personalisation. The findings can be read alongside other pieces of intelligence and research to add to our understanding of the position and where the priorities for action lie.

For Think Local Act Personal, the survey will help us with our plans for the National Self-Directed Support  (SDS) Forum, which is now moving forward with projects. The forum brings together many organisations and people, national and local, with good knowledge about what is working and not working with self-directed support, and includes The College of Social Work. One major piece of work to be undertaken, with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Department of Health, Social Care Institute for Excellence and older people's and carers' organisations, is to review personal budgets for older people, including older people with dementia.

Perhaps the key finding of the survey is that twice as many believe personal budgets will be of benefit to local people using them as those who believe they will not. This positive figure has increased since last year - quite remarkable in the circumstances and despite the many challenges and concerns identified in the survey. This is a strongly hopeful sign that if we can make better progress in clearing away some of the challenges and obstacles to good delivery, major benefits are possible for people.

Even in these really difficult times, significantly more respondents said that personalisation is having a positive rather than negative impact on their jobs - though we should be concerned about the substantial minority that say otherwise or that the status of social workers has been negatively affected. Social work has key roles to play in personalisation but these need to be more strongly articulated both nationally and locally - an issue the SDS Forum has identified for action.

The core challenges noted remain unhelpful bureaucracy and process, lack of co-production with people using social care and continuing cultural barriers. There is a picture of more needing to change about the way business is done - one example being that 72% reported no delegation of budget sign-off, another the reporting of low levels of support planning not being undertaken directly by council staff.

In the light of the frequently expressed concerns, it was perhaps surprising though encouraging to see a majority saw council-managed personal budgets offering greater choice and control than traditional packages though the numbers seeing direct payments offering this were much higher (76%). Given recent Adass findings that managed personal budgets are increasing rapidly as a proportion of the total, this suggests that proposed SDS forum work on direct payment uptake strategies and demonstrating how to achieve choice and control via managed personal budgets is important.

TLAP will also be undertaking a second phase of the National Personal Budgets Survey in the autumn to check what is happening  regarding the outcomes achieved by managed personal budgets and direct payments. Last year's survey reported better outcomes for people on direct payments.

The pattern of recent years seems to be largely continued in these survey findings: they demonstrate both belief in the possibilities of personalisation and continuing frustration with persistent obstacles, many of which seem to represent more of a cultural than technical challenge but also in a really hard financial context. There remains much to be done by both practitioners and leaders. Think Local Act Personal will continue to play its part in this. We will be pleased also to work with Community Care in identifying positive practice and bring those to readers' attention.

The results of the survey can be found on Community Care's website

See the Think Local, Act Personal website for further information on the work of the partnership.

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Last Updated : 11 July 2012. Page Author: Laura Bimpson.