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Person-centred support: what service users and practitioners say

Opinions of service users, practitioners and managers on person-centred support.

Written by:
Michael Glynn et al
Date published:

Opinions of service users, practitioners and managers on person-centred support.

This study examines person-centred support, a key new concern in public services. It does this by bringing together for the first time the views, ideas and experience of service users, face to face practitioners and managers. Government is committed to ‘personalisation’, ‘self-directed support’ and ‘individual budgets’ in social care, aiming for increased choice and control for the people who use services. This is a move away from traditional, 'one-size-fits-all' approaches.

The research asks:

  • what person-centred support means to people who use, work in and manage services;
  • what barriers exist to making services person-centred; and
  • how the obstacles might be overcome.

The report builds on new evidence from the national Standards We Expect project, bringing together for the first time direct experience in 20 areas of the UK. These include different service sectors and a wide range of service user groups. The report will be of value and assistance to everyone interested in social care, health and taking forward the new reforms.

A Microsoft Word version (note: large file, 11MB) of this report is also available.


This summary tells you about the Standards We Expect project.


Disabled people and others have long argued that it does not make sense to spend money on services which limit people’s choices and their opportunities to live ordinary lives.

The alternative, personalisation, aims to support people to make choices and to be included. It goes under many different names, including ‘independent living’, ‘person-centred support’ and ‘self-directed support’. They are all based on the same principle: if disabled people are to participate and contribute as equal citizens they must have choice and control over the support they need to go about their daily lives.

This is a matter of social justice. It is an issue therefore which is fundamental to the kind of society we are, and the kind of society we want to be.

Moreover, it is essential that the people who depend on services are at the heart of decisions about the design and delivery of those services.

This study starts from that position, by asking service users themselves what person-centred support is, what gets in the way of providing it and what helps. It also fully recognises the role of family carers and the important relationship between service users and those managing and providing services.

‘Personalisation’ of public services has become fashionable for politicians, policy-makers and providers. This research is a timely reminder that service users have long been arguing for, and designing, person-centred services. Change will only happen if services are shaped by the people who rely on them.

So, an idea which came from service users themselves will only be realised if individuals are empowered to play their full part, not only in determining their own lives but also in the transformation of public services.