Implications for voluntary sector providers

Personalisation is a way of thinking and working that puts the service user at the centre of public services. Voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) have a key role to play in delivering personalised services where they are well placed to do so and where service delivery contributes to their overall mission. Evidence is still emerging but some key issues that providers need to consider are explained here.

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Building user-focused, responsive services

Personalisation means shaping services around the user, taking their needs and wishes as the starting point for developing models of provision, rather than local authority or organisational preferences. This is an ongoing process and providers must listen and respond to changes in people’s needs and goals.

Many VCOs already provide user-focused services that consider the whole person, but for some this may require a shift in culture and service design. Staff may require additional training to develop person-centred skills and values and services will need to be designed and delivered in a way that allows for more creative and flexible ways to meet service user needs.

A changing marketplace

Personalisation means the power to choose and purchase services will shift from local authorities to service users. Providers must therefore develop their market intelligence and market their services direct to service users. This may mean developing or investing in new marketing strategies and methods such as DVDs or websites to market services.

Personalisation could also mean a shift in demand for certain types of support, for example a move away from day and residential care towards shopping and transport services, personal assistants, and greater social/community activities. Providers will need to respond and adapt their services accordingly. 

They will also need to consider which services they are best placed to offer depending on their particular strengths, what services may already exist, and any gaps in local provision. Planning ahead and thinking strategically are key roles for providers to ensure they are well placed to manage these changes effectively.

Managing systems and processes

Personalisation presents some practical and financial challenges for providers in terms of adapting their systems and processes to manage individualised packages of support and purchasing arrangements, especially where providers currently rely on block or wholesale contracts with local authorities.

This shift to ‘micro-commissioning’ may call for more investment in IT systems, administration and back office functions and financial staff to handle increased administration and invoicing. Re-costing services on a unit or individual basis will also be necessary in order to price individual services, making sure that this reflects the full cost of providing the service. Providers may also need to integrate greater flexibility in staff timetabling and scheduling to meet user demands and build systems and processes that allow staff to work in more creative and flexible ways to respond to user needs.

Advocacy, information and brokerage

VCOs do more than just deliver services; they provide a voice as well as choice.

Being community-led VCOs are well placed to understand local need and services. They can play a crucial role in developing accessible information about support options for service users, their families and carers and provide advice and brokerage about services that will most effectively meet their needs. VCOs can also act as advocates to assist service users, their families and carers to access support and navigate their way through the new system.

Working in partnership with commissioners

It is vital that providers and commissioners work together to shape a market of services that reflects the needs and preferences of local people. Both must listen to service users about their needs and aspirations and develop effective channels of communication so that this learning can be shared and developed into effective commissioning strategies and services.

VCOs and providers should be proactive and engage early with commissioners to understand and help develop their implementation plans and commissioning strategies for personalisation. This will ensure that vital services are not lost for service users and communities. VCOs are also well placed to communicate local authority plans to service users, their families and carers to support them through the transition process. 

Useful resources and publications for providers

Below are the latest resources and reading for providers to help you transform your services and systems for personalisation:

  • Progress for Providers: checking your progress in delivering personalised services.
    Take this self-assessment designed to help you get ready for personalisation. Developed by providers and commissioners this toolkit will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and check your progress in responding to the personalisation agenda through eight priority areas. 
  • Making it Personal: A Providers Journey from Tradition to Transformation.
    An in-depth case study of how a voluntary sector service provider, Dimensions, has responded to the personalisation agenda and transformed its systems and services to be compatible with personal budgets and offer tailored support to users. The case study includes:
    • The journey from block contracting to working with personal budgets;
    • An example contract between service provider and service user to deliver a personalised service using a personal budget;
    • An example risk assessment.
  • Think Local, Act Personal Provider Blueprint.
    The Provider Blueprint shows how organisations can work in a person-centred way including providing support to people who have personal budgets as well as going beyond social care. The Blueprint also demonstrates for commissioners the kinds of services and behaviours they may wish to commission and incentivise.
  • Shared Lives (formerly National Association of Adult Placement Services (NAAPS)).
    Shared Lives is the UK network for family-based and small-scale ways of supporting adults. The Shared Life of My Choice (PDF 6.38 MB) is an example of how a service can be compatible with personal budget funding approaches.
  • Cambridgeshire County Council Self Assessment Tool for Providers delivering Self Directed Support (Word 116KB). 
    Take this self-assessment tool developed by Cambridge County Council to help you understand the implications of personalisation for service provision.  The tool identifies four elements for change and highlights some key questions for consideration in developing your services for the future. Access the Cambridge County Council self directed support toolkit for further resources on changing your business models, ensuring quality, and safeguarding.
  • ACEVO partnership with Lambeth Council and PCT (PDF 3.46 MB).
    A Lambeth Commission for Personalisation (ACEVO, Lambeth Council, Lambeth NHS, VCS) focused on identifying and developing solutions to some of the challenges facing the local VCS in making the transition towards personalisation and aimed to understand how VCOs should adapt their business models to ensure they are prepared for operating more widely with personal budgets. ACEVO have also produced a report looking at what is required to make the People Power Revolution a reality (PDF 1.78 MB).
  • ACEVO How to Cost Appropriately with Personal Budgets (PDF 589 KB) 2010.
    A guide, with worked through examples, on how to cost and price your services for personal budget users. 
  • Hampshire County Council Commission on Personalisation.
    During 2008 and 2009 a Commission was established to understand what ‘personalisation’ would mean for social care in Hampshire and the impact it would have on people involved in both receiving and providing support. Consultations with many stakeholders were used to inform the implementation of personalisation and consider the future shape and funding of adult social care. 
  • SCIE At a glance briefing Implications for Voluntary Sector Service Providers
    A quick guide to personalisation for frontline voluntary sector organisations. It covers practical implications for providers and illustrates how some voluntary organisations are already delivering personalised services. SCIE has a number of additional resources on personalisation in its adult social care pages.
  • English Community Care Association Personalising Care: A route map to delivery for care providers
    This report reviews the implications of personalisation for care providers. It offers a number of practical tips and examples of how providers can meet the challenges and opportunities of personalisation, including a detailed case study of one provider’s experience of implementing personalisation. It also reviews other key social care policies related to personalisation.
  • [PT3]Support Planning. A resource centre to support service users, providers and commissioners in the support planning process developed by Helen Sanderson Associates and in Control. Find out how to manage a budget on a service user’s behalf as an Individual Service Fund, and access a template for an Individual Support Agreement between provider and service user.
  • Person Centred Planning Guidance.
    This report by the Department of Health offers guidance to providers on how to deliver personalised and user focused services. It asks how you can work with service users, families and carers to design and develop person-centred provision and how you can work with commissioners to plan to meet the future demands of your local population.
  • Shop4Support
    A useful tool for people who have a disability, are getting older and/or need support to live their life. Providers could use this to offer information to service users around their options for spending a personal budget. For further information and support for providers see our useful resources and further reading pages.

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