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

Key issues

Encouraging creativity

The IBSEN and In Control evaluations highlighted the importance of enabling older people and people with mental health problems to negotiate innovative support choices. This study revealed many examples of both older personal budget holders and those with mental health problems using their personal budget in creative and imaginative ways. Even where people needed high levels of care, which accounted for much of their personal budget, they had found modest ways of enabling their personal budget to change an aspect of their life. However, there was also a sense that support planning was still 'limited' in some cases. Sometimes this was due to staff having 'traditional' notions of what social care money should be spent on, however personal budget holders themselves sometimes found it hard to think beyond their immediate care needs. personal budget holders and staff suggested a number of ways in which support planning could be made more positive and flexible. In particular, personal budget holders would welcome the flexible use of templates and the opportunity to use different media to express their views. Here again, staff training is important in changing attitudes and opening up practitioners' thinking and all the case study sites provided this. There was also potential for a much stronger role for support provider organisations, giving personal budget holders greater choice in obtaining help to develop their support plan. The availability of services or the scope to 'create' new support options was also important.