Whether you are a disabled person, a family or friend of a disabled person or employed within the social care world, the word ‘personalisation’ has probably started to enter your vocabulary. For those not fortunate enough to have even brushed past this concept here is a story to assist you.
Once upon a time disabled people lived in a small part of town known as medical model ville. With efforts to cure or keep disabled people away from society, one could say it wasn’t the best part of town. Gradually over time disabled activists and campaigners have spread the good word of social model ville. Here, ramps were invented, friendships forged and careers blossomed. Now, this move isn’t quite the end of our story because while social model ville offered improvement – not everyone could truly reach this place. The key to a disabled person living a fulfilled life is by having choice and control. If you cannot get out of bed when desired, how can you access that building, meet the love of your life or get that promotion. Progress was made towards the land far away, but storms would continue to trouble this journey.
It is seen more recently that the destination of ‘happy ever after’ can be reached through updating our systems and processes. In the past, social care was delivered by Government Local Authorities, who assessed a disabled person for their needs. They then commissioned what service was required to satisfy that need, as well as when it would take place and by whom. Thankfully this is now being recognised as an inefficient use of the lands resources. It is all good seeing a problem but in this land a solution is required too.
Out of nowhere a knight on a white horse appears on the horizon. Their name is ‘personalisation’ and their aim is take all the rules that have existed and turn them upside down. The knight is not a threat to other knights with other agendas; Personalisation knows his groundbreaking views will allow the beautiful landscape and opportunities that exist to be enjoyed by everyone. So what is this dude on the horse really up to?
By letting the rulers of the land, known as the Government, to assess the person and hold the budgets, we begin as we were before. However instead of directing which of the merchants in the land (social care providers) should support disabled people, the money is given direct allowing disabled people to make their own decisions. Simple yet effective! What the shining knight needs to explain very clearly and articulately is what this means for (the newly beheld) ‘consumers’ of the land and indeed the merchants too.
Firstly there are responsibilities and rules as a consumer. Despite the benefits of entering the land of purchasing power, in the district of empowerment, there are still dangers. When using direct payments or being on an individual budget one essentially becomes an employer. The tools required to take this journey will be around market research, legal contracts, human resources, time management, diplomacy, tax returns and other financial skills. As more dare to take this route, these tools are vital to breeze through this neck of the woods.
Lastly for the merchants, who were established to fill gaps in the private market, they are approaching a twisting, turning, winding and unknown journey too. They used to fill a generic need in bulk and were able to rely on the rulers for regular income and finance. Moving forward they also need a new set of tools including – market research, marketing and communications, customer service and retention, adding value, new financing mechanics and the key skill is “innovation”.
If the newly appointed consumers and the established merchants can meander through this tricky course which has been carved out by the brave knight, the view will be astounding for all. The rest of the land can and should do many things to assist the journey. However it is the demand and supply of the personalisation agenda that needs to progress resulting in a happy ever after story.