Bureaucracy is damaging personalisation, social workers say

Three-quarters of practitioners say there is now more bureaucracy in their roles as a result of personalisation, according to Community Care's 2011 survey, conducted on behalf of Unison.

Three-quarters of practitioners say there is now more bureaucracy in their roles as a result of personalisation, according to Community Care’s 2011 survey, conducted on behalf of Unison.

This is a significant rise from the 66% figure in last year’s survey.

“There is a massive increase in paperwork with almost sole responsibility for social workers to complete the process,” said one respondent. “In my opinion the promotion of personalisation has been governed by managers who want to have financial control and is a contradiction of the choice principle.”

Complaints included practitioners having to justify funding levels for service users through funding panels, increased use of standardised assessment forms that reduced flexibility and the growing complexity and proliferation of assessment forms.

Just one-fifth of respondents said they had enough time with service users to effectively support self-assessment – despite the fact that only 1% of respondents felt the paperwork relating to assessments was suitable for users to complete without support.

As a result, fewer social care professionals now feel personalisation has enhanced their role, with 36% evaluating the impact of personalisation on their job in positive terms, a reduction of four percentage points on the 2010 survey result.

Helga Pile, national officer for social care at Unison, said there was a “need to scrap some of these forms and go back to the beginning and involve practitioners and ask what needs to be recorded.”

Sue Bott, chief executive of the National Centre for Independent Living, said: “It’s about personalisation not being implemented properly and is seen by lots of local authorities as a way of increasing the paperwork and I guess what it’s about is they can’t bear to lose the control.”

Her view was echoed by consultant Craig Dearden-Phillips, managing director of Stepping Out, an organisation dedicated to helping professionals leave the public sector to set up social enterprises.

“Councils have completely subverted what personal budgets are supposed to be about by their obsession with control and bizarre need to spend 50p in order to deliver a pound’s worth of services,” he said.

Jeff Jerome, national director for social care transformation, admitted the level of bureaucracy is one of his “biggest worries” in the implementation of personalisation.

While there were examples of good practice, he said some councils encouraged staff to take a “conservative and cautious approach to process”.

More on Community Care/Unison’s personalisation survey

Personalisation leads to growth in non-qualified social care staff

How bureaucracy is stalling the spread of personalisation

Support for personalisation plummets among social workers

Councils dogged by slow progress on personalisation

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