SCIE media statement

Older people’s experiences of personal budgets

22 March 2011

Don’t make assumptions about what care and support may ‘suit’ older people. Help them to understand the options available and develop flexible support plans that can change if their circumstances change.

That is a key message from the Social Care Institute for Excellence’s (SCIE) latest report on older people’s experiences of using personal budgets.

Learning from the experience of older people and their carers presents findings from a six month study of older people’s and their carers’ experience of using self-directed support and personal budgets.

Older people see personal budgets as offering them more independence, choice and control, says David Walden, SCIE’s Director of Adult Services. But their biggest concerns are managing the budget and understanding what it can be spent on. Social workers and healthcare staff need to improve their knowledge about personal budgets and work with older people to support their decisions.

The study found that older personal budget holders:

The report found that the system could be improved. For example, some older people are offered a personal budget following home care reablement or a major life event such as a bereavement. They can find it difficult to think about their long-term support needs and would value being able to agree a temporary support plan, with a more substantial plan being developed later if required.

Derek’s story

Derek, an older personal budget holder who is physically frail, needs a lot of support to enable him to live independently. While he was still being supported by the homecare reablement team, his social worker came to his home and went though the assessment with him and his wife Gillian. However, because his needs were quite complex, other practitioners and agencies were involved in assessing Derek’s overall needs.

Although there were a lot of people involved in the process, the couple felt that it was all well co-ordinated and Derek said that ‘the process had been explained quite clearly by the social worker’. Interestingly, he added that he had found it difficult to explain what his needs were because he had never previously had to consider or articulate them. His social worker helped him to think them through.

Policy context

Think Local, Act Personal (340kb PDF) is a sector-wide commitment to moving forward with personalisation and community-based support. In November 2010, the Government’s Vision for Social Care set out a new direction for adult social care, putting people, personalised services and outcomes centre stage and returning social care to its foundations of reciprocity and constructive action by individuals on behalf of the whole community. It sets a challenge for councils to provide a personal budget, preferably as a direct payment, for everyone who is eligible by April 2013.


Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: