Several client groups, including older people and those with mental health problems, continue to face barriers in gaining personal budgets, say social care professionals.
A significant minority of respondents to Community Care’s 2011 personalisation survey said their council was not doing enough to improve access to personal budgets for older people, the homeless, problem drug or alcohol users, people with mental health problems and people who lack mental capacity.
This is despite calls from the government for councils to provide targeted support to improve access to personal budgets for groups including older people and those with complex needs or mental health problems in its vision for adult social care published in November.
The problem was particularly acute for homeless people and drug or alcohol misusers, Community Care found that only 5% of social care professionals thought enough was being done to improve personal budget take-up for the former group and 6% for the latter. Respondents also cited a lack of progress for people with mental health problems.
“In mental health teams, personalisation has not yet been introduced so there has been very little impact,” said one. “Mental health teams are lagging behind,” said another.
However, some respondents identified other significant barriers in implementing personal budgets for some of these groups. “Very difficult to apply to the homeless mentally ill who I work with until they are settled,” said one.
Recent figures for England show that 10% of older people had a personal budget last year, along with 5% of mental health service users and 2% of those using substance misuse services, compared with 23% of adults with learning disabilities.
Recent trials on expanding personal budget use among mental health service users, rough sleepers and drug users identified barriers including a lack of trust by social workers that these client groups would behave responsibly, along with a lack of professional knowledge of personal budgets.
“People can be reliant on their care co-ordinators – assuming that they have one – for information on accessing personal budgets, but the confusion among professionals themselves about who gets them and how they work makes it even harder for people with mental health problems to gain them,” said Vicki Nash, policy and campaigns head at Mind, which carried out the trial into mental health service users.
“Professionals can have a paternalistic approach and make prior judgements that their patient won’t be able to handle a personal budget, and so don’t offer up information about them.”
What do you think?Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails
The state of personalisation in 2011: a special report