on whether or not we’ve got something to hide! Moreover, local authorities and social workers have a key role to play in making sure that appropriate support – and a spectrum of options – is available. If we could get this right (and it probably is a big ‘if’) then we might be able to improve the support available by more fully tailoring it to individual need than is currently possible under the system we have in place. Certainly, it has always seemed ironic that we are
trying to personalise people’s services at the very same time that we are block-funding support (rather than giving people much greater choice over the kind of support they want and need). Overall, much depends on our ability and
willingness to let go (odd though this probably sounds). In principle, personalisation could free social workers up to use their scarce and important skills and experience to support people who really need it (for example, where there are complex issues of consent and capacity and/or safeguarding issues). In this way, we could focus our support on those who need it most, and allow other people who might be able to plan better in different kinds of ways the freedom to do so. Of course, this is very different to the current approach, where we tend to treat everyone the same and arguably spread ourselves too thinly by trying to put everyone through the same – often cumbersome – care management conveyor belt. Rather than seeking equality of input (treating everyone the same), this could be more about recognising that different people need different things, and seeking equality of outcome. Going back to the title of this piece,
personalisation could prove either ‘friend’ or ‘foe’
Jon Glasby is Professor of Health and Social Care and Director of the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham.
– and it’s up to social workers to stand up and be counted, and to make sure that it’s the former rather than the latter. SWM