‘Personalisation’ refers to the process by which people with long-term illnesses or conditions receive support that is tailored to their individual needs and wishes. 

It means that everyone eligible for support (generally from social care or health authorities) is empowered to shape their own lives and the services they receive.   This is done by the creation of a personal pot of funding, replacing the provision of the services themselves.  People are therefore able to take more control in choosing how this money is spent, and the type of services which they are to receive.

In its 2007 paper ’Putting People First‘, the Government outlined its vision to improve adult social care by adopting a personalisation agenda.  The idea behind personalisation is to enable individuals to live independently, and to have complete choice and control of the services they used in daily life.

At its core, personalisation centres on the notion that support and services should be designed with the involvement of those who require them, and should be tailored to their unique needs. It is a move away from the ‘one size fits all’ approach to care, whereby people have been required to ‘fit in’ with pre-existing and uniformly designed support systems which may or may not meet their needs, and offer little in the way of choice or control. One way of supporting people to design their own package of support is through person-centred planning.

Individuals can choose to have as much or as little responsibility over their service as they wish.  Some prefer to take full control of their budget and organise everything themselves, some prefer to organise some services and leave the rest to be taken care of by the local authority, and some prefer to leave the practical organising of care to the council, having informed them of their wishes.

Under this new framework, people with learning disabilities are entitled to personalised support through a variety of systems:

  • Personal budgets
  • Personal health budgets
  • Direct payments

Personalisation process

  1. Begin by getting an assessment from the local authority to see if you fulfil the Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) criteria for financial support.
  2. If you are eligible for financial support from the local authority then you will need to choose how you want the payment to be managed, and the level of control you will aim to take.
  3. It is useful to make a personal plan detailing what would constitute an ideal life.
  4. You will then need to write a support plan, explaining the services which you would require to enable this life to happen, as well as how much they would cost.  It may be helpful to receive support in writing this plan.
  5. This is submitted to the local authority, who will need to approve the budget and the support plan.
  6. Once approved you will receive the budget (if you chose to manage it yourself) and you will be able to start putting the support plan into action.
  7. You will need to prove that you have spent the money in the way outlined in your support plan.

Before the introduction of personalisation, most support for people with long-term conditions came from a service provider or agency. Support can now, however, be accessed in a variety of ways, in particular through the use of choosing your own support staff (often known as personal assistants).   The Social Care Institute for Excellence has identified the following issues to be aware of if you want to recruit your own personal assistants:

  • Personal budgets (particularly direct payments) have created in increasing demand for personal assistants (PAs) from a range of backgrounds and with a broad range of skills. Personalisation will require cultural change and new ways of working that will impact not just on PAs, but also on a wide range of individuals and services that support people to live independent lives.
  • PAs will need to learn a wide range of skills and remain flexible, versatile and adaptable to provide care and support in a way that enables the person to remain independent. Terms and conditions of employment may be different and working hours more flexible, with people working on their own more often, without the clear support of a team.
  • PAs can be employed directly by the person they support, by an agency/organisation, or they may be self-employed.
  • It is important that people are clear what their employment status is, both for legal and tax reasons. If a PA works for several people, it is possible to be self-employed in one situation and employed in another, where the working relationship is slightly different. This means a PA will have different responsibilities and entitlements in different circumstances.