There are now 149 adult and children's services as well as clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), (CCGs) signed up to measure the impact personal budgets and education, health and care plans are having on people's lives.
They will be using POET, the Personal Outcomes Evaluation Tool, which has been developed over a number of years with Lancaster University. POET was originally developed for adult social care but it has recently been adapted so that children's services and CCGs can also benefit from the tool.
A further 29 services have expressed an interest in using POET.
Due to funding from the Department of Health, NHS England and the Department for Education (DfE), we have been able to offer a limited number of organisations use of POET for free.
In October 2014, together with Think Local Act Personal, we published the Third National Personal Budget Survey sharing the experiences of more than 4,000 people with personal budgets and their carers.
The report, focused on the use of personal budgets in adult social services and health across England and is the largest survey to date looking at the impact that personal budgets are having on people's lives.
More than 80 per cent of people surveyed said that a personal budget had made things better or a lot better when it came to dignity in support and quality of life.
At least two thirds also said their personal budget had made things better or a lot better when it came to independence, arranging support, mental health, control over their life, feeling safe, relationships with family and people paid to support them, friendships and self-esteem.
More than two thirds of carers also said that as a result of the person they care for having a personal budget things had got better or a lot better when it came to remaining well and being able to continue caring as well as quality of life for them and the person being cared for.
One of the most important findings was the very clear link between people's experience of the process and the difference the personal budget made to people's lives. Those that found the process of getting and managing a personal budget easy were nearly three times more likely to report good outcomes. Those that said their views were included in the process were nearly twice as likely to report good outcomes. People were also more likely to report good outcomes if they had help to plan their support and if they knew how much money was in their budget.
Interestingly the findings also showed that people who used their budget for personal assistants and community-based support rather than more 'traditional services' reported their personal budget making a bigger difference to their lives.
Age or social care group seemed to make little difference to how well the personal budget worked for people, nor did whether their personal budget was held as a direct payment, an individual service fund or managed by the council.
In July 2014, we also published a report on the outcomes of EHC plans and personal budgets. This was a piece of work that has been funded by the DfE to develop a version of POET able to measure the outcomes of personal budgets and EHC plans for children and young people with special education needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and their families.
Cambridgeshire, East Sussex, Essex, Lincolnshire, Middlesbrough and West Sussex councils took part in the work and worked with In Control and Lancaster University to develop POET.
Parents, carers and practitioners reported broadly positive results about the impact that EHC plans and/or personal budgets have had on the lives of children and young people with SEND. Findings showed that in seven of nine areas asked about at least 80 per cent said that things had worked well all or most of the time. In four of the seven areas surveyed at least 75 per cent of practitioners were positive about the process. At least 80 per cent of respondents also reported that in five areas, things were better or a lot better with an EHC plan and/or personal budget. Both parents/carers and practitioners identified areas that needed to improve including working in partnership and keeping the process of getting an EHC plan or personal budget simple.
POET for children's services has now undergone further testing with 20 children's services and a new report will be published in April 2015. The tool will be made available to all children's services by spring 2015.
If you would like to know more about POET, which services and organisations are taking part, or find out if your organisation can take part, then please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org