Personal budgets must be overhauled to ensure older people, particularly those with dementia, can benefit from them, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said today.
With councils working to a government target of having all eligible service users on personal budgets by April 2013, Adass warned that the current system was not flexible enough to give older people choice and control over their care and said safeguarding concerns needed to be addressed.
“We’ve done well to get a third of service users using them but those people have tended to be younger adults as there tends to be resistance and anxiety about personal budgets among older people," said Adass president Peter Hay.
"We don’t want to blow all the good work that has been done by pushing this system on them to meet the April 2013 target for 100% uptake of personal budgets.”
"It is self-evident that people with dementia need something else,” he added.
The organisation’s concerns are set out in The Case for Tomorrow, a discussion paper on the future of older people’s services that it released today. Specific issues cited include the transfer of risk from councils to older people receiving direct payments, particularly where they employ staff as personal assistants.
In an accompanying paper on personal budgets, it warned that the challenges "cast doubt not only on the practicality of reaching the April 2013 timetable, but also on the wisdom of it". It warned that the implementation of personal budgets were "being artificially driven by the timetable over and above ensuring that real choice and control is delivered".
Adass called on the government to conduct a review of personal budget systems that would develop a more suitable approach for older service users, including recommended minimum standards for safeguarding.
The paper also sets out a number of other recommendations on how to address the challenges faced by older people’s services.
These include more examination of how to remove the barriers that prevent integrated commissioning by social care and health services, and a call for more government spending on social care.
It also suggests the creation of ring-fenced innovation funds that would encourage a shift away from acute care to more community-based provision. “A similar fund saw an explosion in mixed provision in community care – it was the game changer there and could be the game changer here,” said Hay.
Image: Rex Features
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