We talked to Stuart Cameron-Strickland, Head of Policy Performance and Improvement for Adult Social Care, about personalisation and the outcomes of the recent Choice and Control event which shared the results of a survey surrounding personal budgets in Leeds.
Stuart, you were responsible for leading on the POET (Personal Budgets Outcomes and Evaluation Tool) survey on behalf of Adult Social Care. How did this survey come about?
Personal budgets make such a difference to an individual’s life and are a key priority for Adult Social Care. It is essential however, to take stock of how well we’re doing not only against national performance levels but, against our local targets too.
Working with the charity In Control and the team at Lancaster University, we were offered the opportunity to review our activity and what more could be done to encourage greater uptake of personal budgets – the POET survey. Of course we jumped at the chance to do this not only to see how we’ve done so far but, more importantly, to see what we need to do in the future.
You recently held a choice and control event to share the survey results with many of our stakeholders. What was their response to the findings? (click here to see the results from the survey)
With regards to the findings, Leeds has made progress by increasing the number of people using personal budgets and seeing the benefits that personal budgets can bring to their lives. From feedback received at the event, the results showed that we still have work to do and need to engage with as many people as possible.
The day was split into two distinct parts – this is where we’re at now (the survey results) and what more can we do – the future.
A wide variety of stakeholders including service users, carers, personal assistants, providers and social workers took part. They told us how personal budgets can work better; what we’re doing well (the good) and what we could do better. This was the great value of this event and I’m grateful for everyone who contributed to the discussion. It really was a powerful insight from so many different perspectives.
What can work better?
Personal budgets and having choice and control over services received, really works for an individual when they feel involved in the decision making process. It’s about taking that control to decide what’s right for them and having ownership of their own lives. One important message that I took from the event was that people want to live their life the way they want and need to know that help and advice, when needed, is at hand to help them understand what services are available or to find their way through the process.
We need to make sure the process is clearer across the board and help people get the support that lets them live their lives their way. By working together, we can make Leeds a better place for someone who has care and support needs.
For me, what became very clear is that this is not just an Adult Social Care responsibility. If we can all champion personal budgets, whether as a social worker, carer, provider or even as someone who’s using the service, we can increase the uptake. This partnership working and joint accountability can and will make all the difference.
How do you propose to encourage this partnership working?
A really valid suggestion from the audience was to have a steering group to ensure that the realistic suggestions were acted on and progressed. We asked for volunteers and now have representation from all areas including social workers, carers, providers and service users. The broad intention is for this group to track improvements in our jointly agreed approach, we will offer an experienced perspective of what can be resolved and how, with the support of Adult Social Care. Engaging with those at the front line offers us a far greater and realistic insight into what can really be done to increase the uptake of personal budgets for those using services in Leeds.
You seem to be very much championing this uptake Stuart, why?
I’m from Leeds and have worked locally for over 30 years. I want everyone to be able to share the advantages of living in this great city. I can see personal budgets are helping local people to live the way they want. We are taking a step in the right direction but there is still a long way to go. We will benefit from citizens, communities and health and social care agencies working together to ensure everyone can lead a better life.
Personal budgets work. I’ve witnessed first-hand the impressive and positive impact they can have. They work on an individual basis for the individual – that’s an improvement, that’s progress and that’s why I champion them. One of the service users at the event shared how much personal budgets had changed her life and I know this isn’t an isolated case. It was humbling to hear that and encourages me to push forward for greater personal choice and control of services for people with care and support needs wherever I can.