Individual Service Funds for Homecare

This project was initiated to help people to make progress in one of the most challenging areas of adult social care to truly personalise - homecare. Following discussions about practically helpful approaches, a stakeholder group of representatives of people receiving, commissioning and providing support, has come together with In Control and Helen Sanderson Associates to explore the specific opportunities presented by Individual Service Funds.

Some of the key messages from the working group, which the paper seeks to address, include:
* An ISF should be a real option for local people using homecare services. 
* Local councils should develop a framework for this with providers and local people.
* Providers should develop their ability to offer the ISF option, including a description of their offer and retail price.
* Commissioners should encourage the development of local ISF providers, through cooperation, information and support.
* It is important to recognise that the types of homecare support that people using services say they need may not be confined to personal care - they can include a much wider range of tasks.
* Systems need to be developed and training established to enable staff to expand their skills and to work in creative, person-centred ways.
* All should agree that homecare services must be focused on identifying and achieving outcomes, not time and task.
* Councils and providers need to work together so that homecare providers have the freedom to innovate and use budgets flexibly, as agreed with the person using services.
* Capacity, recruitment and retention are increasingly important issues which need to be thought through in the context of the ISF, and what this means in terms of quality and cost.

Personalisation is a key element of government policy for public services. The national Think Local Act Personal partnership is bringing together sector leadership to promote and support personalisation - most recently via its 'Making it Real' markers of progress. However it is clear that many people receiving support are not aware of the agenda and the possibilities it presents for them to have choice and control in their lives.

Our intention has been to explore the practical realities of homecare services, including how the market has evolved, and consider how to move on from the concept of 'time and task'.

Homecare should not been seen as a commodity but an essential part of many people's lives. In particular this paper is intended as a practical contribution to the development of Individual Service Funds in homecare. We hope that it can be used as the basis for further work in localities with commissioners and with homecare providers keen to rise to the personalisation challenge.

The paper is published alongside a companion tool, Progress for Providers: Checking your progress in delivering personalised support for people living at home, developed by the same group, which focuses on how providers can self-assess, plan and act to further personalise their support.

The development of both the paper and the toolkit was sponsored and supported by Mears Care Limited and the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA). Two local authorities were partners in the project - Wirral Borough Council and Lancashire County Council.

Last Updated : 29 January 2013. Page Author: Pam Schreier.