Service users are likely to benefit from personalisation but are not being involved in making it happen, say social care professionals. Half of respondents to Community Care’s annual personalisation survey said they expected service users to benefit from personal budgets over the medium to long-term, up from 41% last year, and compared with 27% who felt they would not benefit.
However, 54% said service users and their families were either not very involved or not at all involved in making personalisation happen, up from 40% in 2011. The survey also found that 72% of social care staff believe their council’s resource allocation system was not easy for service users and carers to understand.
[Go to our special report page for full coverage of the 2012 personalisation survey]
One respondent said that service users and carers “often struggle to understand the system”, with social workers “bearing the brunt” when personal budgets were lower than service users expected.
“The defining strength of personal budgets was that people would have an upfront and reliable picture of what money would be available and there would be a rational and clear process to establish that,” said Peter Beresford, chair of service user network Shaping Our Lives. “That was the basis for the government moving very fast to take this forward and what this data is saying, and its in line with other independent data, is that on all fronts what we are actually seeing is failure. It is not working for service users or for practitioners.”
“Because the best care and support often results from a partnership between the service user and their social worker, any indication that people who use services are being overlooked must be a cause for concern,” said Owen Davies, policy and public affairs adviser at The College of Social Work, which co-sponsored the survey with Unison.
However, other respondents were positive about the extent to which service users were being empowered through personalisation. “I feel the service users have become more in control of their care and therefore more empowered. Most of our service users regain some, if not all, of their independence. I feel that personalisation is the way forward in social care.”
Community Care polled 272 social care professionals employed by local authorities in England. Get the full survey results.