Earlier this month, a group of academics, activists and practitioners wrote to social services directors about personal budgets. Their letter caused great upset and some anger among people using personal budgets and their family members. Subsequently a new service user organisation, The Doers Club, has responded to claims that the self-directed support model has failed – stating “Personal budgets have allowed us to take charge for the first time”
Figure on stairs and Pound Sign SmallIn an article written for The Guardian Social Care Network by Les Scaife and Gavin Croft of The Doers Club it is explained that more than 60 people have written a follow-up letter sent to all directors of adult social services in England to strongly disagreeing with the academics’ main allegation that the model of self-directed support is leading to the failure of personal budgets delivery. The Doers Club believe that this is an unhelpful distraction from the two main issues – a massive reduction of funding in social care and councils struggling to share power with people.

 

For many the arrival of self-directed support and personal budgets has been the most important policy development affecting individuals lives and those of their families. It has allowed many people to be able to take charge of their care at home, rather than having to take one-size-fits-all services provided by councils and existing care organisations.

The Doers Club letter advises the directors and others to look first at the serious large-scale studies that have been carried out and the ones that ask personal budgets users, what is working. This would enable those carrying out the research to hear that individuals using personal budget that they want them to be more driven by self-directed support, not less. Many of these large-scale studies already show that most people’s lives are improved by personal budgets, but that one of the problems in the success of personal budgets and self-directed support is that councils and professionals often struggle to hand-over control to people themselves.

The Doers Club believes that people in need of care at home should know very quickly a rough estimate of what their budget will be and they should be able to use this information to lead their own planning, with support if they want it, and have the chance to build flexible creative support around their own particular circumstances. However often councils are still tempted to over-control things, by giving lists of what budgets can buy, by using panels to scrutinise support plans, and encouraging people to use approved council providers of services. However councils are learning and improving by working with user led organisations and individuals who have used personal budgets and self-directed support.

The letter is a plea to directors to work with personal budget holders and their families to find out what is working and not working and base improvements on this real ‘lived’ experience.

Les Scaife and Gavin Croft are members of service user organisation the Doers Club the full letter can be viewed here The Doers Club Letter.

At HomeCareDirect we’re passionate about the personalisation of care, and for almost 10 years we’ve been supporting the rights of people to have control over their support at home. We provide a national service and are proud to be helping hundreds of people and families nationwide to live independently in their own home.

All of us here at HomeCareDirect strongly agree that personal budgets and self-directed support have allowed thousands of people nationwide to take charge over their care at home for the first time, but that this has been an uphill struggle for many.  We also agree that the best people to influence how this journey can be improved for the future are the people and family members have travelled through it. We commend the work of user led organisations such as The Doers Club and hope that their letter has great impact.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on personal budgets and self-directed support so please get in touch with us here.