The transfer of purchasing power for care to service users is the “biggest intellectual and operational challenge” facing directors of adult social services, Adass spring seminar delegates were told last week.
Association president Anne Williams said that, with the advent of individual budgets, councils had to ensure a range of good services for individuals to choose from, stability for providers and a well-trained workforce.
She added that individuals may also face greater risks by choosing their own care.
“We know figures on adult abuse are going up. As people choose different models [of care] then the risk may rise and we have got to manage that,” she said.
The seminar was also told that individual budgets would not necessarily cost councils more and were likely to result in more creative solutions that better met the needs of users.
Martin Farran, director of adult social services at Barnsley Council, said his council’s experience as one of the individual budget pilot sites was that people often wanted less rather than more when given the freedom to decide for themselves.
He said a culture change was needed so that social care and health workers looked at users’ lives through users’ eyes.
“The professional’s role is to help people understand their needs and manage the issues,” Farran said.
“We are so risk-averse and worried about litigation. But people need to decide to take their own risks.”
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