Care service users to get ‘personal budgets’

Care service users in Lincoln may soon be in control of who delivers the care they need, if new proposals are accepted by Lincolnshire County Council.

In what’s being billed as “personalisation” of care services, recipients of care will have “personal budgets” to spend on the care they need.

Support will be given to individuals wanting to choose their own care. The authority also said it will still source care for those who don’t want to do it themselves.

Lincolnshire County Council argues this will give people more freedom and choice over how they receive care. The budget amount will be set after a detailed assessment of the individual’s needs.

The plans will be put before the council’s Executive on July 5 for approval.

Lincolnshire’s eight care homes were earmarked for closure earlier this year, five by September and three by next March, providing their service users can find care elsewhere.

Savings of £3.3million would be made if the new proposals are implemented. It’s hoped a market will emerge that will meet the service needs of the area.

A problem may arise if providing certain services isn’t commercially viable for a business, leaving vulnerable people without access to vital care.

Peter Duxbury, Executive Director of Adults’ and Children’s Services at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We would be keen to support services. If we come across an area left purely to the market, the service won’t develop. We would look at ways of trying to make that happen.

“So there is a degree of market intervention in this. We see our role as a responsible commissioner of services, that may include elements of us supporting part of the market and to create parts of the market.”

The County Council is trying to stimulate a care service market by encouraging care staff who are losing their jobs at the closing care homes to set up their own enterprises.

Richard Collins, Head of Adult Commissioning at the council, said during the staff consultation over the care home closures there had been “lots of interest” in this.

He said: “We’ve got a variety of things we’re offering to individuals. Some of it is the standard stuff in terms of outgoing people, like going through an agency, and we’ve also got some wellbeing stuff in there.

“Most of it is around training. We’re asking people to tell us what it is they want, so we can develop it. We’re looking at how we can support with business advice, and some very specialist stuff about how to set up some of these businesses.”

Councillor Marianne Overton, Leader of the Independents on the county council, said there are “some things I am quite pleased about”, but expressed concern at parts of the proposals.

She said: “I do see there are already problems arising from individuals coming to me. The difficulty with personalised budgets is that it is intended to increase choice, but what we see on the ground is that it can actually have the reverse effect.

“We have already seen a number of day care centres closing. Without the security of a contract they find it difficult to employ staff and to maintain service at a consistent and reliable level.

“If you rely on personal budgets it can start to fall apart.”