Report 55: People not processes: the future of personalisation and independent living

Conclusion

Truly personalised services, would enable service users and carers to achieve the outcomes that they want to achieve and ensure that resources are spent effectively and usefully.

Personalisation has brought benefits for many service users and carers but the view of participants at the seminar was that has come at a cost. That costs has been the loss of collective perspectives where service users and carers work together to achieve common individual aims, just as the disabled people who said up the first independent living scheme in the UK in 1970s worked together so they could live the way they wanted to.

The other cost has come in terms of the creation of a new bureaucracy concerned with processes and mechanisms like resource allocation systems and cost containment. Some users and carers have achieved better outcomes from the new system but it continues to be a struggle, particularly where better outcomes can be achieved with radical departures from traditional services.

Concerns about the difficulties with personalisation are compounded significantly by users and carers strong fears about the impact of cuts in public expenditure. While the aim of the seminars was to look at what can be achieved at a time of limited resources, it is important convey the level off people’s fears, and, as Alex O'Neill from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation put it, ‘politicians need to feel the fear.’

This said, there were many constructive ideas about how the situation can be improved. Alex O'Neill went on to draw parallels between the present and 1948 when the National Health Service was established. While that was also a time of great economic problems, the vision of creating the new service and deliver improvements to people’s lives overcame the economic restrictions of the time.

With a similarly strong vision for personalisation it would be possible to bring the benefits of improved outcomes to a far greater number of service users and carers. There are suggestions that this may lead to savings, as in the example of providing a hot tub that helps someone sleep better rather than night staff, but there is no clear evidence that personalised services for all would deliver global savings.

However, truly personalised services, or independent living, would enable service users and carers to achieve the outcomes that they want to achieve and ensure that resources are spent effectively and usefully.

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