Personalisation and older homelessness

Personalisation is now the basis for social care policy. Proper assessment of needs, good information and independent advice enabling users of services to make informed decisions and have access to a range of quality services which meet needs and promote dignity and choice are cornerstones of this policy. This section looks at how this agenda applies to older homeless people.

All adults eligible for publicly funded adult social care will be able to have individual budgets. For more information on how personalisation works the social enterprise In Control developed the concept and practice of self-directed support and there is lots of information on their website.

At this stage there have been no indications that the homelessness sector will be adopting wholesale changes such as a move to personal budgets. However the governments 'no second night out' initiative does state 'Some of the most effective delivery models bring services to the homeless person, such as, ‘in-reach’ into hostels. These services work because they are tailored to address personal needs, for example, through the use of personal budgets.

Homelessness Personalisation Pilots

Communities and Local Government are funding 4 pilots across England to explore the effectiveness of personalisation for homeless people. So far the pilots are focusing on “the small number of people who have slept rough for many years and have, up to now, been unwilling to accept the offer of help.” This will mean using the flexibility and choice that personalisation can offer to work with a group who refuse traditional service offers. The pilots have a budget to work with this group to find creative solutions to bring them off the street. These have proved useful for meeting more idiosyncratic needs where people don’t fit into mainstream services.

A personalised approach

While not moving to individual budgets homelessness providers can start moving towards a more personalised approach by asking how choice is currently limited in their services. In relation to older homeless people this means looking at them as individuals, recognising the diversity in the population both culturally and in terms of their needs and thinking creatively about the outcomes that might work for them. They are often a population who have experienced little choice and control in their lives so it may be more effective to start with small choices.

  • Do clients have to pay for food whether they want it or not?
  • Do they have any say over their key worker?
  • Can clients choose what activities they engage in ?
  • Do they have choices about how their rooms look?
  • Are support plans structured around the organisation’s expectations of clients’ needs, or around clients’ own aims? 

Personalisation offers an opportunity to build on current client involvement and to think outside traditional service models. There is an understanding about how to deliver person centred planning and national policy calls for person centred planning and yet resource constraints result in people being fitted into existing services rather than services being designed around their needs. However there are opportunities with unitary authorities having joint social care and housing departments and Supporting People no longer being ring -fenced to open up the potential for more joined up budgets.