The shifting sands of support planning

Williams V, Porter S, Strong S

Journal of Integrated Care 2013, 21, 3: 139—147

Abstract

Purpose – The aim of this paper is to present a critical analysis of the current issues about support planning within personal budgets (PBs) for disabled and older people.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on data from a round of professional workshops in five local authorities, which represented the first stage of a research study about support planning. Focus group discussions were held with participants from voluntary sector organisations (VSOs), as well as social services participants, and the paper is based on a thematic analysis of those discussions.
Findings – While there was considerable agreement about the desired outcomes for personal budget users, and the ingredients of good support planning, some major concerns were voiced about current constraints. Budgetary cuts were felt to impinge negatively on support planning, and conflicts were identified for social services between the facilitation of PB users’ choices, and the need to keep budgets limited. Support planning was often being re-colonised by social services, and VSOs felt that their own role was being curtailed. Some suggestions were made about equalising the power relationships between social services, VSOs and PB users themselves.
Originality/value – These workshops represent five local authority areas which volunteered to take part in research, building on existing good practices in support for PB users. The obstacles they identified are likely to be very general ones, and need to be addressed by strategic solutions at national and local level.