Services for people with learning difficulties are more cost-effective and provide a better quality of life if users are given control over their money and support.
The 18-month study of In Control, a pilot scheme that gives people their own budgets and control over support, found satisfaction with services doubled at no extra cost to councils.
While the report said the scheme was not intended to be a “cost-cutting” exercise, one of the six pilot councils in England estimated that it could save 20 per cent on funds for all people using social care services.
The report, which covered the first phase of In Control from 2003 to 2005, found that care managers saw individuals and their families as the best people to plan and manage support in most cases. This could release care managers to work on more complex cases, including those where people were in expensive out of area placements, it added.
Carl Poll (pictured), a learning difficulties consultant and one of the report’s authors, said it was “impossible” to predict how much care planning and management could be taken on by individuals and families if the scheme was rolled out. He also said it would not lead to a reduction in the number of care managers or “put people out of jobs”.
The report highlighted changes in people’s use of services during the pilots, including a steep rise in the use of personal assistants and a fall in attendance at day centres.
And within a year 10 people in residential care had moved to other kinds of accommodation.
Simon Duffy, a founder of In Control and another of the report’s authors, predicted the scheme could lead to a “radical reorganisation” of social care. “Putting resources into people’s own hands will make services change according to need and
become more fluid.”
In Control scheme
● It was set up in 2003 as a partnership between central and local government and the voluntary sector.
● Six pilot councils each allocated personalised budgets to 15 people with learning difficulties so they could plan and arrange their own “self-directed” support.
● The development of In Control continues across 85 councils with a view to rolling it out across the whole social care system.
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