Report into the lived experience of Personal Budgets within Essex with a particular focus on Direct Payments

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Essex undertook research to inform Essex County Council’s redesign of direct payments for social care.  They spoke to 27 people.

When an individual had a consistent and robust relationship with a dedicated social worker who understood their needs, they were positively satisfied with their Personal Budget. When this relationship was not in place, feelings differed substantially.

Understanding what a personal budget is and how it works can be a challenge for some people. This section focuses on the importance of regular ongoing communication and feedback.

Although a direct payment is intended to increase the flexibility of choice and control, numerous factors suggest this is not always the case and has even been described as an ‘impersonal budget’.

The report contains 4 recommendations.

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General details

Report title 
Report into the lived experience of Personal Budgets within Essex with a particular focus on Direct Payments
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Essex
Date of publication 
Thursday, 28 October, 2021
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Cost of services
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of catering
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Local Council
Primary research method used 
Structured interview
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Social care services 
Adult social care
Home care / domiciliary care

Details about conditions and diseases

What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not known
Does the information include staff's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Implied Impact

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.