Summer update

In Control's chief executive, Julie Stansfield, provides an update on In Control activity.

For In Control, summer is the time that we take stock to reflect on what we have achieved in the sector, the challenges ahead and forthcoming work.

This year in particular has been a truly busy year. Despite the backdrop of increased pressure on budgets and vast change across the sector, there is much for In Control to take pride in. It is however also clear that there is still so much to be done to ensure that people are able to live the lives they choose.

A major achievement for In Control has been the launch of the second National Personal Budget Survey (NPBS), which with over 3,300 people contributing to the survey, is our largest to date. It was also our most in-depth, including for the first time 312 people who hold personal health budgets and their carers. We undertook this work on behalf of Think Local Act Personal with twenty-two councils in England taking part.

The NPBS utilises POET, the Personal Outcomes and Evaluation Tool developed in partnership between In Control and Lancaster University. POET allows us to create national benchmark on the impact that personal budgets are having on people's lives.

Encouragingly, the NPBS clearly shows that when people are able to direct their personal budgets, there is a resoundingly positive impact on their lives. It also clearly shows how important personal budgets are to not only people's sense of independence but improvement in health, both mental and physical, and their ability to feel safe and supported with dignity.

However, while there was a lot of 'good news' highlighted in the survey, there were also areas of concern which unsurprisingly included processes, bureaucracy and restrictions placed on people. This is worrying as it is becoming increasingly clear that good processes lead to good outcomes for people.

This and other challenges must be addressed if personalisation is to truly make a difference to people's lives. We are urging all councils to check outcomes and experiences with local people regularly and systematically; to co-produce plans to deliver improvements based on these results and importantly to address the issue of unnecessary bureaucracy slowing or even preventing access to personal budgets.

To help achieve these changes, we are currently working with the councils using POET to explore what the results really mean and to help them to develop plans for improvement in partnership with their local communities.  We are also about to start working with a number of additional councils that will be using POET for the first time and will be contributing to third National Personal Budget Survey due to be published late 2014.

As well as planning toward the 2014 survey, we are currently working on the next iteration of POET. This will see one tool for reporting and measurement of outcomes across health and social care services.

Not only that, but as a result of funding from the Department for Education (DfE), we are developing POET for children's services. This will widen the use of POET to provide a 'user led' approach to recording and measuring outcomes for disabled children, young people and their families from their single education, health and care plan and linked to their personal budget.

Over the past year the government's plans for special education needs (SEN) and disabled children's services have gathered pace and In Control is playing an increasing role in developing understanding in this area, recently being contracted to support a group of pathfinder sites and contribute to the new Code of Practice.

These are exciting times, with some real innovation taking place in children's services and we are looking forward to sharing some of the work we are undertaking with Wigan Council as part of these projects in a webinar we are hosting on the 1st October.

The implementation of personal health budgets is also gathering pace and we have just facilitated a webinar for NHS England on its national support programme for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) which we're a strategic adviser to. The webinar was well attended with representatives across CCGs and councils taking part. A recording of the session can be viewed here. We are also looking forward to doing in-depth work over the next few months with Hull, Oxfordshire and Tees that will focus on providing practical support to develop a draft pathway and processes and procedures around clinical tasks. One element of this work that is attracting significant interest is the newly developed Partners in Health leadership programme. We're currently half way through delivering this for the first time in Tees and we are already seeing the positive impact of partnership working.

We are also delighted to have been asked by the ADASS Eastern Region to deliver a programme of work in support of Think Local Act Personal. Over the past year we have successfully initiated and facilitated programmes in support of the TLAP agenda in several regions including North West, Yorkshire & Humber and London and we are looking forward to seeing the same benefits these regions have experienced in the Eastern Region.

These programmes build on the existing work done to ensure that the TLAP vision and coalition is in place at a local level. This is where In Control is able to provide positive support - working with ADASS branches and others to build local action at a regional level and importantly, develop and maintain key regional activity. This approach has several advantages, primarily in these cash strapped times of enabling limited resources to be combined to enable a more significant programme of work. It also ensures there is strong ownership as well as cross-sector working and partnership at a regional level leading to stronger local delivery through more co-ordinated approaches.

In addition to all of this work with statutory agencies, we are continuing to support families through free courses providing tools and guidance as well as the opportunity to meet others who share similar experiences. All Together Better and Sharing Knowledge courses are starting soon in Staffordshire, Cornwall & Devon and Derby. If you are interested in finding out more, or submitting an application, please visit our courses page.

Over the coming months we will be continuing our efforts to expand the principles of self-directed support and ensure that real change is happening for people on the ground. We have some really interesting projects coming up including work to improve information and advice for people with dementia, include access to personal budgets for people with mental health as well as continued work with the criminal justice sector and around substance misuse.

If you would like to find out more about our work, or contribute to some of the projects please do get in touch with us at

I hope you all have a wonderful summer - with some good weather!


Julie Stansfield

Chief Executive, In Control

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Last Updated : 26 July 2013. Page Author: Laura Bimpson.