Personalisation: a new dawn or the end of the road for third sector support for carers?

Document type
Working Paper
Miller, Robin; Larkin, Mary
Third Sector Research Centre
Date of publication
1 July 2013
Working paper; 104
Social Work, Social Care and Social Services
Social welfare
Material type

Download (499KB )

Personalisation is the latest dynamic in the long and complex relationship between the third and public sectors who work within the field of social care. It has been seen as both an opportunity for third sector organisations (TSOs) to have the freedom to deliver the more flexible and holistic support that they aspire to, but also a potential financial challenge due to the need to compete for more individualised purchasing of care. In this paper we respond to calls to move beyond seeing personalisation as a ‘blanket’ approach and experience, through exploring the impacts within the particular field of carer support. Building on a literature review and a stakeholder event, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with those working in the third sector, and those in related policy and commissioning roles within the public sector. These interviews highlighted the fact that despite different perspectives on the scale and nature of change required, the move towards more personalised support was seen as a positive development for carers. Benefits that were reported included opportunities to pursue personal interests, to have regular breaks from caring and to improve the relationship with the ‘cared for’. However, such impacts were seen to be reduced through lack of public sector funding, complicated and lengthy assessment and financial procedures, and carers’ personal ability and capacity to take up the potential opportunities. The aspiration of personalisation (that is, more individualised and flexible support determined and led by the recipients) was seen by most interviewees as being in line with the values of TSOs who work in this sector. In principle this would mean that TSOs are well placed to respond to carers through a personalised model of care which would therefore be of benefit to carers and TSOs. However, there were also concerns that through their emphasis on quality and fair wages for staff, TSOs may struggle to compete with other providers if carers act as ‘individual consumers’ seeking to get the most service possible from their personal budget allocation. Other interviewees viewed many TSOs as having become complacent and no longer responsive to the changing needs and aspirations of carers, and for them these competitive pressures would either force the existing organisations to change or lead to their decline.

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