Adult social care is at a turning point.
From April, councils in England will be judged on their ability to give people greater control and choice over their care, through self-directed support.
Under the government’s Putting People First concordat, councils must, by 2011, ensure many more users should be assessing their own needs and have set up a system for giving users personal budgets, providing a transparent allocation of resources for their adult care needs.
Personal budgets target for all users
In the longer-term, all users, apart from in emergencies, should be using personal budgets, with the possibility of extending these into other funding streams, through so-called individual budgets.
While the agenda is not new, evidence about what works is relatively slight and progress gradual, according to major research published today (Thursday) on in Control, a model of self-directed support hailed by the government as the way forward, which began in 2003 in six English councils.
In his foreword, care services minister Ivan Lewis says of in Control: “Its innovative and ground-breaking work has been a major factor in ensuring that self-directed support and personal budgets are now at the heart of a radical social care transformation which will begin this April.”
The findings, however, reveal many uncertainties beneath the rhetoric.
“If many more authorities – or indeed the national system – now seriously take up the goal of total transformation, we shall be in deeply uncharted territory,” the report by in Control experts says.
While results from in Control between 2005-7 are “encouraging”, only around 3,500 people – out of over one million adult social care users – are getting self-directed support from the over 100 English councils involved.
Despite the small base, the report’s findings are the strongest evidence yet that self-directed support can and does work.