Personal budget standards vary
Published on 29 January 2013 11:30 AM
Personal budgets for older people are not working as well as they are for other groups supported by councils, according to a review.
The report, led by Think Local Act Personal (TLAP), a partnership agreement set up to transform adult social care, examined how personal budgets, which let people buy their own care and support, can be improved for older people in light of evidence showing their experience of self-directed support is poorer than that of younger disabled adults.
It re-analysed its 2011 National Personal Budgets Survey of more than 1,000 users in which older people reported less positive outcomes than younger disabled adults in five out of 13 areas, including feeling safe and having control over their support.
The discrepancy was not because personal budgets were less suitable for older people but because of the way they were received, TLAP said. For example, direct payments were better received than council-managed budgets.
Variation in standard of delivery 'a cause for concern'
A total of 83% of personal budgets for older people were managed by their council, compared with just over half of those for younger adults, according to last year's Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) survey of council progress on personal budgets.
But while the majority of councils said most older people tended to choose council-managed budgets, largely because of the perceived burdens of managing direct payments, the rate at which older people received such payments varied from less than 10% to more than 70% between councils.
The variation in standard of delivery by councils was a cause for concern, TLAP said.
'There is nothing inevitable about councils delivering a poor personal budget experience for older people, and some councils clearly manage to deliver a highly effective personal budget experience,' it said.
However, it warned that simply reproducing the good practice of some councils across the board could prove tricky as, in the current climate, there were limited resources available to change systems and possibly made older people less willing to change care arrangements.
In the next stage of the review, TLAP will work with certain councils to identify good practice in delivering personal budgets for older people and develop recommendations for the Government.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK commented: 'Age UK supports older people being able to access cash payments for their care services and being supported to understand how much care is available to them through allocation of a personal budget. However, cash payments should not be the only option available, and older people must still be able to access high quality services commissioned on their behalf by their Local Authority.
'It is also important that practical issues such as payment systems are easy to use, especially for those older people with hearing or mobility problems, or for those who do not have ready access to a computer.'
Copyright Press Association 2013