In Control, Lancaster University and Think Local Act Personal have today Tuesday October 28th published the Third National Personal Budget Survey sharing the experiences of more than 4,000 people with personal budgets and their carers.
The report, focuses 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 show 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.
Writing in the report's foreword, Minister of State for Care and Support, Norman Lamb MP, said: "We must strive to improve the outcomes people experience as a result of using personal budgets not just focus on increasing the numbers. We should always be asking 'are people getting better lives and support - and is the experience simpler and more flexible?"
Commenting on the findings, Julie Stansfield, In Control's chief executive said: "When used to their potential personal budgets are an important tool enabling people to get control over their lives. We have now moved on from questioning whether they have a role to play in public services, they are a clear part of the future of social services, education and health for people of all ages, but the question now is what can we do to make them work for people in the best possible way? This report gives us the clearest indication to date on what's working and what's not in their delivery and provides a very useful insight for councils and health organisations on where they need to focus their efforts.
"A survey of 4,000 people is a significant number and critically this survey is based on people's direct reported experiences representing what it the reality for people. The positive difference that personal budgets are making to people's lives irrespective of their age or social care group is encouraging but it is very clear from the survey that these differences are only achieved when the control shifts from services to the individual.
"However this is the third national personal budget survey we have published with TLAP and it is disappointing to see yet again such wide variations in delivery and process. There is much more that can be done to improve delivery, in particular reducing bureaucracy. Councils and health organisations to need to learn from each other and make greater use of best practice."
Sam Bennett, Director of Think Local Act Personal, the national partnership transforming health and care through personalised, community-based support, said:"TLAP welcomes these findings and will continue to work with our partners and others to address the challenges of uneven personal budget delivery and the continuing experience of frustrating and unhelpful process. Strong leadership is needed to drive through the fundamental changes required to secure a sustainable system of personalised care and support for the future. The Personalisation Action Plan published earlier this year called for councils to check their progress on personalisation directly with people and carers by undertaking this survey and signing up to Making it Real. Over the next 12 months, we will add to and share our understanding of what works best to deliver the very best results for people. It is particularly important to learn the lessons from introducing personal budgets in social care to ensure partners in health and education provide the very best opportunity of making Personal Health Budgets and Education Healthcare Plans improve the lives of people with long term health conditions and young people with special educational needs."
TLAP Co-chairs & National Co-production Advisory Group members Marjory Broughton and Clenton Farquharson, said: "The results from this survey are a powerful reminder of the reasons why we are undertaking the challenging task of mainstreaming delivery of personal budgets - that is to improve the experiences of people wishing to live their lives in the way that works best for them, their families and carers. There is much to learn about how we can make things better for everyone. We hope practitioners will read this report and act on its findings."
The report is based on the Personal Outcomes Evaluation Tool (POET) which has been developed by In Control and Lancaster University over the past 10 years as a way to measure what's working and what's not when it comes to personal budgets and personalised care and support. It was originally for use in adult social care but has now been developed for use in health, children's services and education. A version for providers is also in development.
A separate report relating specifically to the data for personal health budgets is also available, you can find out more about this report here.
In the summer we published a report based on the development of POET for children's services and the experiences of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
Think Local Act Personal is a national partnership of over 50 organisations committed to transforming health and social through personalisation and community-based support. More information, including tools to help with improving the delivery of personal budgets and self-directed support can be found here. Or get in touch at: email@example.com
To find out more about POET and how your council can take part, visit our POET webpages or get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister of State for Care and Support, Norman Lamb MP, has recommended that all councils should be checking people's experiences through tools such as POET. POET has been included in the TLAP action plan for 2014/15 as a key action for the sector partnership to promote as best practice. To this end, funding has now been made available to all adult social services in English councils to access POET.