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Commissioning Course Alumni explore Individual Service Funds

IPC’s new series of workshops for Commissioning Course Alumni continued in April 2022 with a session exploring Individual Service Funds (ISF's).

Delivering better outcomes and personalising support has traditionally only been possible by people using a Direct Payment (DP). However, uptake of these in many areas continues to be low. ISF's present an opportunity for commissioners to transform how support is delivered locally and to broaden the offer of personalised services to citizens who perhaps are unwilling, or unable to manage a Direct Payment.

IPC hosted a workshop for commissioners working across the social care and health system to explore how ISF's can, and do work in practice and the learning from areas that are presently offering this option.

The workshop was led by Graeme McLaren, Principal IPC Consultant and Chris Watson, Associate IPC consultant and they were joined by Alex Goff, Director of Darwin Care, an organisation that supports 35 people using Individual Service Funds in Dorset.

Graeme McLaren said,

"This session was well received by commissioners and offered space for people both to understand the mechanics of ISFs and to hear about concrete examples of how they work in practice, and the real improvements they can bring to people’s lives."

Chris Watson observed,

“The issue of making local authority and NHS services more personalised has been high on the government’s agenda for many years and there is a growing expectation that commissioners create an offer around ISF's. This approach increases the options available to local citizens who want to ‘micro commission’ their support with help from a third party. A growing number of areas have done this successfully and have seen improved outcomes and a reduction in the cost of support. It was great to be able to share inspirational stories of good practice around the country with a group of innovative commissioners.”

Key insights from participants:

  • The current approach to setting personal budgets and reviewing commissioned services is often too rigid and can constrain support organisations to delivering ‘time and task’ rather than delivering an evolving set of outcomes
  • ISF's are a great option for people who can't manage a Direct Payment themselves or don't have access to a ‘suitable person’
  • Workforce capacity is a sector wide issue at present. ISF's enable people to buy support from a range of local options and micro providers and this can reduce pressure on the wider homecare market
  • The approach works on trust. It is important that providers are able to work flexibly and creatively with people to adjust their support as required. Delivered successfully people may not use up their full annual personal budget
  • It is important that people can access and use Direct Payments and ISF's flexibly without undue restrictions

If you would like to know more about our work in this area, then please contact Philip Provenzano, Assistant Director IPC.

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