Action on Elder Abuse says personalisation is used to cut costs

Action on Elder Abuse chief executive Gary FitzGerald has accused the government of rushing personalisation reforms through to save money.

FitzGerald told a Community Care conference on safeguarding vulnerable adults that while he did not disagree with the principles of personalisation, he was “alarmed” by the speed at which they were being introduced. By 2011, councils will be expected to have set up a system of personal budgets in their areas and significantly increased the uptake of direct payments.

Safety of service users

He said the concept of choice for services was not incompatible with safety and protection, but said the state had to take responsibility for the safety of service users purchasing care with personal budgets.

“It is still public money so the state still has some responsibility,” he said: “To hear ministers making arguments that you should be able to trust people to make the right decisions is not good enough. Trusting is not the issue. It is about providing a safe environment.”

He said it “can’t be right” to allow people who are barred from working with vulnerable adults, for instance under the Protection of Vulnerable Adults list, to “answer an advert” to work as a personal assistant for a personal budget user.

FitzGerald added: “Too often the state has said ‘we know what’s best’ but we need to move the debate on to more solid ground. This is not about having a nanny state.”

Review of No Secrets guidance

Earlier, Department of Health official Lucy Bonnerjea assured delegates that the review into the No Secrets guidance on adult protection would not be abandoned if there were a general election. A consultation paper is due next month with new guidance expected in April 2009.

“There is no danger of the guidance not happening. It will definitely happen,” she said. “We desperately need more prosecutions. It is a shame we have so many people who do not get to court. We need to work on that.”

The new guidance will also look at how people can be protected in unregulated ­environments such as day centres, mental health hostels, sheltered units and supported housing units.

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