SCIE Report 40: Keeping personal budgets personal: learning from the experiences of older people, people with mental health problems and their carers
Assessment and resource allocation
Different resource allocation systems were used across the sites. Where a generic system was used it highlighted inequalities in resource allocation between client groups. Older people, especially those with high care needs, appeared to be most disadvantaged. Only one site had a 'carer neutral' resource allocation system. Levels of devolved responsibility and arrangements for 'signing off' personal budget assessments and support plans varied across the study sites and between client groups, but there were examples of flexible systems.
The majority of mental health personal budget holders and carers were very happy with the amount they had received in their personal budget, but satisfaction among older personal budget holders and their carers was much more variable. Some resource allocation systems gave personal budget holders more flexibility than others. Older personal budget holders and their carers were more likely to have been advised to set aside a budget for contingencies. personal budget holders, carers and staff felt that contingency planning should be strengthened and suggested that:
- contingency arrangements should be discussed and recorded during assessment and, if appropriate, documented in the support plan
- personal budget holders should be allowed to keep unspent contingency funds at the end of the year
- when contingency arrangements have to be put in place, staff and carers should be enabled to do this without a reassessment being required
- for those with high-care needs, an authority-wide contingency budget should be established on which staff could draw to set up additional support in a crisis.
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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