Making personalisation possible

Personalised care offers countless benefits to people living with multiple long-term conditions. When shaped around the individual, personalised – or person-centred – care empowers people to manage their conditions, prioritising the needs and wants that are most important to them.

Personal health budgets are one way of achieving this personalisation. They give people the choice and control to shape their care and support around their personal goals and desires.

Recently there has been a spike in interest in personal health budgets amongst policy makers in the UK. In March 2018, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt acknowledged they were key to enabling people to have control over their healthcare and live better lives. NHS England is aiming for 50-100,000 people to have a budget by 2021, and a consultation on extending the amount of people who have a right to a budget closed this month (June 2018).

Engaging the voluntary sector

In the latest report from National Voices, NAVCA and Volunteering Matters, we share lessons from two years’ of working with voluntary organisations and Clinical Commissioning Groups across England, looking at the delivery of personal health budgets.

We learnt that engagement with the voluntary sector was essential for enabling people to have better experiences of personal health budgets. Voluntary organisations have the knowledge, expertise and reach into local communities that cannot be duplicated by statutory bodies.

However, for the potential of personalised care to be realised, a cultural shift is required. This is no easy task, and it needs support on all sides: from health commissioners, statutory bodies, voluntary and community organisations and indeed the people who stand to benefit most: people using health services.

Working in collaboration

When health commissioners and the voluntary sector work in collaboration, people’s care improves. For example, in Warrington, the Clinical Commissioning Group and voluntary sector are working together to provide more personalised care and support at the end of life through personal health budgets. These budgets have enabled 83% of people to die in a place of their choosing, against an average of 26%.

Personal health budgets are not for everyone, and it’s important to remember this. Personalising care means doing what is right for the individual, which by definition will vary from person to person.

However, they offer promising outcomes that prioritise the wants and needs of the person, rather than the system. They empower individuals, allow them to take control of their care and enable them to be active citizens in their communities. For these outcomes to be possible, the voluntary sector has a pivotal role to play.

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