Practitioners lack confidence in personalisation

Personalisation losi ng favour among social workers Most social workers cite increased bureaucracy as a reason for declining support Adult...

Adult social workers are becoming more doubtful that the personalisation agenda will deliver for service users or themselves, an exclusive Community Care survey has found.

The poll of 359 practitioners and managers, carried out in association with Unison, found that 51% felt personal budgets would benefit people in their areas in the medium to long-term, down from 67% in a similar survey we ran last year.

While 40% said the impact of personalisation on their jobs had been positive, almost a third said it had been negative, up from 18% in our 2008 survey.

Terry Hawkins, a consultant and former adult social care director, warned: “Staff support and motivation for personalisation is critical but Community Care and Unison’s results show there is a real danger of losing staff at this critical stage.”

The survey also found that 12% of practitioners had seen a reduction in the number of social workers on their team, and 16% an increase in staff without a social work qualification.

Overall, 43% of respondents believed there had been a reduction in the number of social workers practising in adult services in England, with just 5% saying there had been an increase.

The findings come with the government’s three-year Putting People First agenda to personalise care in England now well into its final year. Backed by a £520m grant, it aims to give users and carers more choice and control over the support they receive by April 2011, including through the roll out of personal budgets.

The results identify a number of possible reasons for the downturn in support for personalisation. Two-thirds of practitioners said they had faced increased bureaucracy as a result of the agenda, while a similar proportion said they did not have enough time with service users to support self-assessments – a key plank of personalisation.

Ruth Cartwright, the British Association of Social Workers joint manager for England, said: “Personalisation is supposed to be about giving the individual more say about what would best meet their needs, yet social workers have [insufficient] time to spend with them in direct work, exploring their situation.”

Richard Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, admitted some councils had “over-complicated” the introduction of new processes under personalisation, such as self-assessments and support planning.

Jeff Jerome, the man tasked with helping councils implement personalisation in his role as national director for social care transformation, said he would consider looking into the issue of increased bureaucracy. He said the point of personalisation should be to “reduce process”.

Full survey results and further coverage on personalisation

Results of 2009 survey

Results of 2008 survey

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