Personalisation: IBs can benefit carers, finds DH

Individual budgets for service users can improve outcome for their carers, according to Department of Health research published today.

The latest report from the evaluation of the individual budget pilot programme found that carers who looked-after people receiving IBs reported significantly better quality of life outcomes than those whose loved-ones received conventional social care support.

Interviews with carers suggested that this resulted primarily from them having more choice and control over how they spent their time, for instance by using the IB to pay someone to take on some of their previous caring roles.

Dissatisfaction for some

However, the report also found that a “substantial proportion” of carers of service users on IBs expressed some dissatisfaction with the support planning process. Interviews with carers suggested that this was related to the level and nature of their involvement in the process.

The research also found there was a danger that carers’ needs could be overlooked in the assessment or self-assessment of service users.

Carers were also treated differently by resource allocation systems (RAS) designed to determine how much money people received in their individual budgets. In some sites, points were deducted from a RAS if the service user had a carer, whereas in others points could be added if an assessment indicated unmet need on the part of the carer.

Care services minister Phil Hope described the report as “encouraging” but urged councils to ensure carers’ needs were taken into account alongside those of service users.

Carers charities’ study

The report was released alongside a study by charities the Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Caring for Carers on ensuring carers were not disadvantaged by the personalisation agenda.

The trust’s director of policy and communications, Alex Fox, said the charities’ report examined the challenges councils faced in making personalisation a reality for the people they cared for but included examples of success in meeting those challenges.

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