Older people feel individual budgets are burdensome. Research shows that staff encounter barriers to integration of funding
Older people experience the lowest levels of satisfaction with individual budgets (IBs) of any service user group, according to the first evaluation of the scheme.
Evidence from pilots in 13 English councils showed a “substantial” proportion of older people felt taking control of their support was a “burden” and were anxious about change.
Mental health service users and physically disabled people were the most satisfied, while people with learning disabilities reported “mixed” outcomes.
The evaluation, from November 2005 to December 2007, found that while there was little difference between care costs for IB holders and those receiving conventional support, national implementation of IBs would need “substantial investment” for areas including staff training.
Cost concerns were also raised over how councils could run “parallel” systems for people using IBs and services purchased by councils while personalisation was being rolled out.
The Department of Health-commissioned study also found staff encountered multiple barriers to integrating the six IB funding streams, including adult care, Supporting People, community equipment and Disabled Facilities Grant. Councils are required to roll out personal budgets, which contain adult care funding only, rather than fully-fledged individual budgets, over the next three years.
Martin Routledge, the government’s lead on personalisation, told Community Care that evidence from the pilot areas showed “encouraging progress” had been made since last December, particularly with older people.
“Outcomes for older people improve when they are offered options and are not made to feel they have to take cash and use it for personal assistants,” he said.