SCIE Report 40: Keeping personal budgets personal: learning from the experiences of older people, people with mental health problems and their carers

Introduction

Background

An Age UK report draws on earlier research by DEMOS (01), which showed that older people are the group least likely to know about personal budgets and most likely to need help to plan support and manage the budget. A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (02) also highlighted the importance of providing guidance and support, not just information, to older people if they are to fully benefit from personal budgets. DH guidance on support planning and brokerage with older people and people with mental health problems also emphasises the need for clear, written, local information and the importance of access to a range of support, including peer support (03). In Control have also highlighted the importance of free information, advice and advocacy.

The Audit Commission's recent report (04) on the financial management of personal budgets found that people with mental health problems were less likely to have a personal budget than other service users and that personal budgets were less developed for this group. This partly reflects the difficulty of disentangling pooled NHS and social care funds, but some of the research participants also considered there to be a financial risk in offering personal budgets to people with mental health problems. This issue was also picked up by the National Mental Health Development Unit in their report on personal budgets which draws attention to the part that 'stigma' and 'ignorance' have played in the low take up of personal budgets among people using mental health services. An earlier study by MIND (05), which involved a number of personal budget holders with mental health problems, highlighted the 'confusion and misunderstanding' surrounding personal budgets in mental health services and commented that this was resulting in people who use services feeling less confident about expressing their right to choice and control.

The IBSEN individual budgets evaluation recommended that, going forward, personal budget policy and practice in relation to these two groups needs to be further developed. Recognising this, SCIE decided to commission a practice investigation which would build on existing evidence to specifically explore the experiences of older people, people with mental health problems and their carers.

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  • SCIE Report 40: Keeping personal budgets personal: learning from the experiences of older people, people with mental health problems and their carers