Personalisation for all - no more silos or turf wards

The real motor for personalisation is not personal budgets but the recognition that social outcomes are not produced by services but coproduced through the actions of people and communities, aided or otherwise by services. Coproduction has always existed but has mostly not been acknowledged or explicitly supported. This applies as much to children, young people and families as it does to adults and older people.

Enabling much more effective coproduction of outcomes requires a move away from the historic 'we know best' approach taken by the statutory sector. This in turn requires a more equal and respectful relationship between professionals and people. An example, in children and young people's services, is family group conferencing. This enables families to come together, recognise their assets, decide how to make best use of them to support the children for whom there is a concern, and negotiate for other appropriate support from service providers.

Personalisation is not about tweaking a failing system, it is about fundamentally changing the way that we support those with additional support needs to lead a life that makes sense to themselves and their families. It starts with the child and their family and the strengths they have to build on and supporting s them to take an active part in the life of their local communities in a way that makes sense to them. Personalisation also enables communities to be more inclusive, more tolerant of difference and more welcoming fo example, through inter-generational collaboration such as grand mentors and young people volunteering.

Personalisation challenges the historic siloed thinking in the children and young people's world where needs are aligned to a department or service which can lead to turf wars that deflect people from focusing on getting the best support in place for the individual. The potential of personalisation is well illustrated by the new individual Education, Health and Care Plans; a more simple, joined-up approach to delivering holistic outcomes.

Like adult services, personalisation in children and young people's services recognises the need to personalise universal services. There are many examples of this in schools, including the Targeted Mental Health in Schools project and time credits developed for use in schools and other settings by SPICE. Personal budgets in children and young people's services have also been developed over a considerable period of time, starting with the pioneering work of In Control, leading on to the national SEND pilots and the new legislation. Whilst much of the focus has been on children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities their application has, and should be, much wider. Along with developments such as budget holding by lead professionals, personal budgets have already been used to enable children and young people with additional needs and those on the edge of, or in care, to benefit from personalisation.

The Children's Personalisation Network (CPN) brings together a small number of organisations who have been involved in promoting the best practice in personalisation. We have, and continue to, listen and learn from the successes and challenges in adult services and have used this, along with our own developments, to build a holistic approach to personalisation. However, unlike adult services, the recognition of both the concept and the value of personalisation in children and young people's services is still in its infancy. We, like TLAP, recognise that the time for developing work in isolation, in silos defined by age as much as by need, is long past. TLAP is already committed to supporting personalisation for children with special educational needs and disabilities. This focus should now be widened to ensure that all children and families can benefit from personalisation. This includes addressing some of the areas where personal budgets haven't yet resulted in better outcomes yet such as employment outcomes. The CPN looks forward to working with TLAP to develop personalisation across all ages, all people and all communities to make lasting differences to the way people experience support and lead their lives.

By Nicola Gitsham -NDTi, Nic Crosby - In Contol and Clive Miller -Children's Personalisation Network


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