Leading the Way in Individual Service Funds (ISF’s)

Independence Project is proud to be leading the way in Individual Service Funds (ISF) as currently the only day opportunities provider in the country to be acting as an ISF provider and managing individual personal budgets this way. With 9 members already transitioned to ISF’s and more on the way, the ISF’s allow the flexibility and adaptability to design and deliver care and support in line with individual needs and preferences.

What is an ISF?

An ISF is one of the ways you can choose to receive your personal budget. This is when Essex County Council gives your personal budget directly to a provider. The individual and the provider share the job of organising care and support together. This ensures that each person can be in control of how their support is designed and delivered. Truly enabling person centred care, giving people real choice and control.

To find out more about ISF’s, click here to take a look at the Essex County Council website

Current issues with Personal Budgets and Managed Services

Personal budgets are offered to individuals after a social worker completes a ‘Social Needs Assessment’ or a ‘Carers Needs Assessment.’ A ‘Care Plan’ or’ Individual Service Plan’ is then drafted by the social worker to meet the needs of the individual. In these plans, services and providers are listed to support the individual and the money spent under the plan has to stick to the plan, it cannot vary without permission. Similarly Essex County Council can directly commission support through managed services. Often this can leave individuals with a very inflexible approach to care. 

The reality is working with people requires a lot of flexibility. Individual circumstances change and so do services supporting individuals. A person might lose a long standing Personal Assistant or they might want to attend a new service that has recently opened. Their care needs may change because of timetable changes at college, the list goes on. Currently, if changes occur then individuals have to go back to social services to get plans updated. Essex County Council services are stretched already and this can take a long time to implement the changes needed. ISF’s enable people to adapt and change very quickly. Independence Project can change the plan to flex with the needs of the individual without having to keep returning to social workers. 

Working Together

To establish themselves as an ISF provider, Independence Project have been working closely with Self Directed Futures Ltd and Essex County Council.

Alex Goff, an ISF Provider Network Lead at Self Directed Futures Ltd, said:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed supporting Andrew and his team at Independence Project on their self directed support journey. Andrew has fully grasped the exciting potential of the ISF model of support that enhances innovation and creativity within the health and social care sector.  Andrew passionately promotes the individuals he supports to empower them to make choices about their own lives. Having a flexible ISF budget that allows his team to keep delivering the right support at the right time and the right place is essential. It is fantastic to hear how Andrew is making a huge difference to the people he helps in the Essex area.

Furthermore, I have seen the strengthening of positive partnership working between providers and the local authority throughout the implementation of ISF’s within ECC.  Another special mention should also be made to Sarah Ebdale from ECC commissioning team who has continually championed ISF’s and the development of this offer within the local authority from day one. I very much look forward to supporting all providers and ECC on their ISF journey now and into the future.”

This was similarly echoed by Chris Watson, founder of Self Directed Futures and Chair of SDS Network England, who added:

“The Independence Project is a pioneer in the Day Opportunities sector with its innovative use of Individual Service Funds. Their unique approach allows for highly personalised support, meeting each individual’s specific outcomes with creativity and person centred approaches. Working in partnership with the Independence Project and Essex County Council has been a refreshing experience, and it’s clear that this is making a positive impact both on the people being supported by the project and on the wider community.”

Benefits of an ISF

The Independence Project is already seeing huge benefits for those members who have an ISF. Andrew Denny, founder of the Independence Project, said:

“I am incredibly excited about offering this new service. I set up the Independence Project to help people achieve independence. Often I have seen frustration with the length of time things can take to change things for the individuals we support. Independence Project has become incredibly adept and knowledgeable of the services on offer in our local area with fantastic working relationships. I have personally built up a great network and bank of services out there to support individuals. I always try to think outside of the box to support the people we work with and this requires a lot of flexibility and a pragmatic mindset. 

Individual Service Funds have given us the key to be able to truly help people and their parents/carers in all aspects of their lives. Recently I have been able to support an individual that was having some real difficulties in his home life, we were able to step in and change his life. We have supported one member to go on a short holiday trip where he spent the first night away from his family in over 10 years. I believe that ISF’s are going to play a huge part in the future of social care in our country!”

The Future

The ISF’s are transforming lives by putting individuals at the heart of their care. By working closely with members as a provider, Independence Project has always been in a great position to recognise needs and requirements, as well as appreciating how these can change on a daily basis. Now, with the ISF’s,  they have the flexibility and adaptability to tailor the support they provide exactly to what individuals need and when they need it, to ensure the very best individual outcomes for all.

To see what Essex is planning for ISF’s and how it hopes to develop them in Essex, please click here.

If you would like to speak to Independence Project and find out how to transition your funding please contact info@independenceproject.co.uk

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