Individualised service funds for people with learning disabilities have improved quality and reduced costs


This report from Choice Support seeks to explain the process used to break down existing block contracts and to create more personalised and individually funded alternatives. The work was done by Choice Support in partnership with Southwark Social Services. The aim of the project was two-fold. Firstly to bring about improvements in quality, and secondly, to reduce costs and so save money. The report author claims that the projected savings over four years are £1.79 million, a 29.75% reduction.

The project has

  • broken down a large block contract for 83 people into individual budgets
  • created Individual Service Funds (ISF) for more flexible services
  • begun creating better and more empowering services for those they serve
  • developed a more dynamic and respectful relationship between a service provider and commissioner

Dr Simon Duffy, of The Centre For Welfare Reform, says:

The implementation of personalisation has been undermined by the failure to overcome long-standing problems between commissioners and providers. This new approach – where service providers are trusted to take a greater leadership role – is an important element of making personalisation effective and achievable. Southwark Council and Choice Support are to be congratulated on taking such an important step and for setting a new standard in commissioner-provider relations.”

ISFs in Action: Personalising Block Contracts, Hoolahan, S, Centre for Welfare Reform

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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