Personalisation - the Journey So Far

Arguably Personalisation's journey began in 2006/7 with the inception of the Individual Budget (IB) Pilots; 13 local authorities who effectively were the trailblazers, with a target for 200 IB's each over two years.

I am pleased to be able to say that Barnsley was one of the 13. That said, after six months I was beginning to question if we had made a mistake as it was a real slog. And, although there was an independent university led review, it was far too early in the pilot to draw any meaningful conclusion. Thankfully we persevered, and this became the embryo of personalisation as we know it, as we realised it was effectively our future core operating model and would become the default approach.

This was reinforced in 2009 by the launch of Putting People First (PPF), industrialising personalisation as a requirement for all local authorities. While much of the focus was on personal budgets 30% target by the end of year three, there were also a series of milestones as key steps to support the broader development of personalisation, eg. the development of a universal information and advice strategy. It is also important to note the level of commitment and support from the Department of Health, both in terms of an implementation team and dedicated funding for each local authority to implement PPF - carrot and stick!

We should be truly proud of our achievements to date, as many commentators have referred to it as potentially the biggest change in social care since the introduction of the NHS and Welfare State. By the end of PPF the majority of local authorities had achieved or exceeded the 30% target.

The 2013 Personalisation Survey has evidenced further progress with 73% reporting that more than 70% of all eligible adults received personalised services and support in 2012/13; only 9% of councils reported that less than 50% of those eligible received personalised services and support.

Where does it leave us? My top tips:

  • Focus on the customer journey
    Don't rely on eligibility criteria to restrict access. Invest in a proactive universal information and advice strategy which provides information, advice and triage support to a broad range of health and social care services. Enable and promote self-care/management and sign post people to alternative services.
  • Outcome focussed assessment
    The assumption is that people who use services self-manage, our role is to ensure the level of support they need to do so. Keep the self-assessment process simple and embrace risk management. Being risk averse limits creativity and opportunities, restricting People who use services from living the life they want.
  • Market development
    We have moved on from the traditional 'commissioning' purchaser/provider split. Our role is predominantly strategic planning to meet needs and market facilitation, supporting people who use services as micro commissioners. For providers this means focussing on those in direct receipt of their services as purchasers and being responsive.
  • Personalisation as part of a broader citizenship approach
    Individuals, families and communities should be seen as assets as opposed to the traditional deficits model. Recognise people's strengths and abilities, promote reciprocacy by asking those in receipt of support what they can offer.

Six years ago a colleague said to me personalisation is the new evangelism. I think they are right. Did any of us think we would have made the progress achieved to date with the majority of those eligible in receipt of a personal budget. What could we achieve in the next 7 years if we apply what we have learnt to the broader community, health and well-being.


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