Families with disabled children should be offered more personal budgets to ease the transition between children’s and adults services, a sector expert told delegates at the CIPFA conference on social care finance today.
“I strongly advise children’s services to look into some element of personal budgets because some experience of personal budgets before entering adults’ services would be positive for families and would build confidence in the system,” said Caroline Highwood, an independent social care consultant who recently retired as Kent’s director of resources in adults’ services.
However, Highwood warned practitioners they had to be very careful when discussing these options with families as any suspicion of cost-saving motives could create insurmountable barriers.
“It’s a conversation you have to be very careful with,” she told delegates. “Families cannot believe you’re offering a lower-cost service just because of local authority cuts. That will put up some major barriers. The family needs to see that this is in the best interest of the young person. Otherwise, you’re going to get placards outside the town hall.”
Highwood also said practitioners must be aware of the sudden change in attitude some families experience from services during a transition.
“From a family perspective, children’s disabilities services are what you might call a deficit model,” she said. “When families need to get services for their child, they have to argue, ‘This and this are what little Johnny can’t do’. In adults’ services, the best services are predicated on, ‘What can you do with support?’
“During the transition, after 18 years of saying ‘little Johnny can’t…’ there can be a bit of a gap,” she said.
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails