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

Getting it right - what it looks like

Nothing is beyond the limits of personal budget as long as it is with the law and meets an assessed need.

Michelle Parry, IF We Can Help
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The second day of the seminar opened with three presentations by service providers running personalised services.

Pooling personal budgets: HACT/Up2Us

Andrew van Doorn and Christine Bond spoke about HACT, which works with housing providers such as housing associations, to improve the lives of people who live in their accommodation. HACT is part of a project called Up2Us which is running six pilot projects to explore group buying of social care services by people receiving personal budgets.

They see group buying as a way to increase what individuals can afford to buy with their personal budgets, and other resources where available, as a way to improve choices and develop new relationships between service users and service providers. It is also supporting new approaches including co-production.

HACT is running an Up2US pilot project in Norfolk and has included groups of people pooling their budgets to pay for day care services and services at home. The people buying day care have found they now have greater control over the service and a group of tenants in a housing association successfully pooled their budgets to buy night care.

Learning from the Norfolk pilot so far indicates that user involvement and co-production can be the difference between whether or not a pooled budget approach works and that small changes can make a significant difference to people’s lives. There is still a lot of learning needed around personalisation, and pooling resources is another layer of new thinking that all involved in social care will need to adapt to.

User-led service provider: Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Centre

Sarah Fennel gave an overview of the personalised approach of the crisis centre that has been run by service users in Leeds since 1999.

The Centre gives choice and control through a personalised approach to support. This involves services being accessible at times when people are most likely to be in crisis, users directing the support they receive and the service being in voluntary sector and not having statutory powers. People are able to refer themselves to the service.

They identify five key elements to effective support:

Everyone involved in providing the service has experience as a service user. Sarah described working at the centre as being rewarding, freeing and empowering.

While the centre has a personalised approach, it is not funded by direct payments or personal budgets. The Department of Health recognises that crisis/emergency services need to be block funded as it is difficult to budget for crises on an individual basis. However, the centre’s individualised approach clearly fits with the personalisation agenda and the group work they offer would lend itself to individual budgets.

Carer-led information and advice service: IF We Can Help

Michelle Parry is the carer for her teenage son and runs training on personalisation and a website called IF (Individual Funding) We Can Help which promotes personalised approaches to carers and social care professionals.

The information she shares through her website and training has a number of key messages about personalisation. She described personalisation as being focused on the outcomes service users and carers want to achieve and in some cases this means providing support in ways that do not fit with traditional models of social care.

Examples of this given by Michelle included alternative therapies, gym membership, exercise equipment, computer equipment, travel and holidays. While such support might be questioned by some, they do deliver better outcomes and in some instances will be substantially cheaper than traditional services.

Michelle illustrated this with the example of a family who were given a personal budget to buy a hot tub. Their son had very disturbed sleep patterns as a result of autism and they received night-time support at a cost of over £14,000 a year to the local authority. During a holiday they found that using a hot tub before going to bed helped him sleep and applied for a personal budget to buy one. This cost £3,500 and meant they did not need the night time support, saving the council these significant ongoing costs.

Michelle stressed that nothing is beyond the limits of personal budget as long as it is with the law and meets an assessed need.


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