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2009 Retired Members' Conference
5 October 2009

Conference recognises that the personalisation in social care agenda is a major challenge for UNISON.

Local authorities are focusing on the roll-out of various forms of ‘cash for care’: direct payments, individual budgets and personal budgets. This shift in the way care is organised and paid for will have huge implications for older people, including many UNISON retired members, who are, or may become, in receipt of social care, and for UNISON members working in social care.

While recognising that ‘cash for care’ has the potential to offer individuals a wide range of personal choice in the way their care needs are met and give them the right to manage their own care, taking control of the care and support arrangements they require to live independently, Conference has serious concerns over the implementation of the personalisation programme.

Social care provision must always meet the needs and wishes of the service user. The option to take up direct payment, an individual budget or a personal budget must always be the individual’s free choice. While some older people may welcome the opportunity to take control of their care arrangements, many just want to receive the help, care and support they need without the additional responsibility of managing a budget or employing a personal assistant. Pressure should never be put on service users who do not want to take this on.

Other concerns include the lack of robust safeguards to protect potentially vulnerable clients; the lack of adequate registration, regulation and safeguarding of employment rights of personal assistants; and the potential threat of further privatisation of care services.

Older people, those with disabilities, their families, and carers need to be informed of all the implications of these trends in provisions.

Conference therefore instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to call on the National Executive Council to publicise concerns regarding payments, personal budgets and individual budgets for care, and to campaign through all appropriate means for:

i.Robust safeguards to protect potentially vulnerable older people opting for personalised care services;

ii.Provision of appropriate advice and support for older people opting for personalised care services, with particular information for UNISON retired members published in Interactive in January 2010;

iii.Adequate registration and regulation of personal assistants;

iv.Adequate advice on and protection of the employment rights of personal assistants.