Choice and control for older people using home care services: how far have council-managed personal budgets helped?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This paper reports the experiences of older people who use council-managed personal budgets (PBs) to fund home care services and their satisfaction with the level of choice and control they are able to exercise.

Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected from 18 older people from eight home care agencies across three councils in England. All interviews were semi-structured and face-to-face.

Findings: Despite some optimism about improvements in choice and flexibility experienced by older people using home care services, the findings from this small study suggest that the gap between the 'ideal' of user choice and the 'reality' of practice continues to be significant. The level of choice and control older people felt able to exercise to tailor home care services to their personal needs and preferences was restricted to low level choices. Other choices were constrained by the low levels of older people's PBs and council restrictions on what PBs can be spent on. Older people's understanding of limitations in public funding/pressures on agencies and their reluctance to play an active consumer role including willingness to 'exit' from unsatisfactory care arrangements appeared to further challenge the potential for achieving greater choice and control through council-managed PBs.

Originality/value: The English government's policy emphasis on personalisation of care and support and new organisational arrangements for managed PBs aim to promote user choice and control. This is the first study to report the experiences of older people using managed PBs under these new arrangements. The paper highlights areas of interests and concerns that social care staff, support planners and commissioners may need to consider.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQuality in Ageing and Older Adults
Issue number4
Early online date1 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • personalisation
  • personal budgets
  • older people
  • home care services
  • adult social care
  • choice and control

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