Personalisation ‘at risk of being debased and devalued’


A leading disabled activist has delivered a stinging attack on how the personalisation of care services is being implemented.
Peter Beresford, chair of the national user-led network of service-users Shaping Our Lives, spoke out to an audience of social care professionals at the Community Care Live event in May.
He said he feared that “another great idea” would be “debased and lost” and that personalisation and personal budgets must not be “degraded and devalued”.
He said service-users across the country reported a “big and growing gulf” between the “impressive” commitment of those leading the work and the realities as “lived and experienced” by service-users.
And he compared personalisation to the Valuing People learning difficulties white paper of 2001, which was “ground-breaking” but didn’t have “the resources to make it happen”.
He warned of a new bureaucracy that had grown up around personalisation, with “new forms, new procedures and new requirements”, and said some councils were just rebranding what they had always done and “calling it personalisation”.
Service-users, he said, do not have “any real sense that they or their organisations are really being involved”, and he pointed to closures of user-led organisations (ULOs) due to funding problems, even though the government has said it wants a national network of groups led by service-users.
He also said there was a fear that personalisation was really about making “cuts by stealth” to services.
Melanie Henwood, a health and social care consultant, told the same session that too many people with “complex needs” were being denied personal budgets.
She said: “Some councils clearly are engaging with the personalisation agenda with people with complex needs, but others – and I would say most – are probably still too conservative and limited in their ambitions.”
Clive Newton, national development manager, health and social care, for Help the Aged and Age Concern, said the “acid test” of personalisation was whether it could work for “a frail 85-year-old living on her own” with no support from relatives or neighbours.
He added: “I want to see personalisation working for older people and we have yet to see that happen.”