New website could guide service-users through ‘daunting’ support plans


theweeksubA new website could help to put disabled people in control of their own care at a time of deep cuts to council-funded support, according to the disabled people’s organisation that has designed it.

Create My Support Plan was created for and by disabled people by the West of England Centre for Inclusive Living (WECIL), and was launched yesterday (11 September) at the Disability Somerset independent living exhibition.

The free online support planning tool – funded by the Department of Health – allows disabled people receiving health and social care funding to plan and prepare their own support plan “at their own pace”, in preparation for reviews and assessments by their local authority.

The hope is that it will also allow them to be more creative with ideas for how they can use their personal budgets.

This could include “non-traditional” methods, such as using circles of support – a group of people working together as volunteers to help a person achieve their goals – or buying a piece of assistive equipment.

WECIL hopes the tool will also save local authorities time and money, freeing up scarce resources for other disabled people.

It said that the “unprecedented strains experienced by health and social care in the United Kingdom make adopting alternative and innovative approaches to support planning ever more imperative”.

According to responses to Freedom of Information Act requests by WECIL to councils across the UK, support planning can take a social worker up to 100 hours, for service-users with the most complex needs.

Anna-Clare Temple, WECIL’s business and funding manager, said she hoped the website would allow disabled people to make the best use of their funding, whether they received support from health or social care agencies, or funded their own care.

But she insisted that it would not give councils an excuse to cut people’s support.

She said: “We are not trying to find local authorities a way to justify giving people less funding.

“It is about everyone having a certain amount of responsibility about making the best use of the funding they have available to them and saving money as time.”

The site also includes a directory of services, products and organisations from across the UK, reviewed and rated by other disabled people.

Cheri Wilkins, chief executive of WECIL, said: “As an organisation run by and for disabled people, we recognised the need to create a tool that would help people through the support planning process.

“Support plans are very valuable; they give disabled people real choice and control over their life. However, the process can be daunting and difficult without the necessary support.

“We are really proud of Create My Support Plan as there is now a tool that guides individuals through the process, giving prompts and peer-led ideas to enable them to consider all aspects of their life as they produce their plan.”

WECIL now hopes the website will be used by disabled people, local authorities, and centres for independent living.

11 September 2013