Supported housing staff need significant extra training in personalisation to help the people they support make the most of personal budgets, a study has found.
Housing providers feel that the skills required under personalisation were very different from those currently used by staff with specific training required in what personal budgets are, brokerage and support planning and promoting more person-centred outcomes.
The findings came in a report on six pilots set up by housing charity Hact on how personal budgets can be applied to people in supported housing settings.
“Many providers identified a significant training need for staff. They described the skill-set needed to support personalised services as being very different to that of present,” said the report by think-tank the New Economics Foundation said.
It recommended a two-day course to be co-delivered with service users.
As well as the knowledge gap, staff required more “independence and flexibility” to respond to personalised needs and interests as there was evidence that purchasing was challenging in sites where sign-off was needed higher up the chain.
However, the report also found concerns about the impact on staff of personal budgets as providers looked to more flexible pools of casual staff who could fit in around more individualised demands and schedules.
The Up2us project was conceived by Hact to find solutions to the lack of power personal budget holders have over provision compared with councils purchasing services in bulk, and the risk that some housing services may become unsustainable should enough service users take their custom elsewhere with personal budgets.
Six pilots were set up in Oxford, Kensington and Chelsea, Barking and Dagenham, Norfolk, Kent and Knowsley with each looking to support service users to make collective purchases with personal budgets.
However, the report found that providers were currently focused on “disaggregating” services so they could be purchased by individuals instead of collective and collaborative purchasing. Current collective purchases were focused on social activities such as trips out or the purchase of goods to enhance individual well-being such as gym equipment.
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