Individual Service Funds workshop for West Midlands providers and commissioners


img_3033Thanks to everyone who attended the workshop on Individual Service Funds which took place on 16th November at The Impact Hub, Birmingham.

The workshop sponsored by Think Local Act Personal, Centre for Welfare Reform and  IEWM saw representatives from West Midlands councils, social care and housing providers and the voluntary sector, come together to plan how to introduce greater personal choice through Individual Service Funds.

The objective was to:

  • Learn more about how ISF’s have been introduced and developed elsewhere from the facilitators Frances Brown and John Dalrymple
  • Hear stories of changed lives. Examples of how ISF’s have made a difference and have helped to promote independence and well being
  • Discuss the implications of ISF’s on your organisation, for example, on recruitment, finance, flexible working
  • Ask questions, share experiences and make local connections
  • Hear about progress being made within the region through the work of the West Midlands ISF Action Learning set

Please scroll down to view outputs from the day.

Setting the scene from a national perspective, Martin Walker SDS Policy Lead with Think Local Act Personal, suggested that ISF’s offer councils a way to promote personalisation differently, with their local partners, and advised on the growing evidence base that ISF’s are enabling better outcomes and better costs, by freeing providers up to work more flexibly, connect people into local communities and help them stay at home for longer. He acknowledged that

Councils and providers are still grappling with the wider culture change required to introduce Individual Service Funds”.

This was followed by Chris Howells from Centre for Welfare Reform and Helen Turner, IEWM Associate, co- facilitators of the West Midlands ISF Action Learning Set, who outlined how the learning set has been helping councils and providers develop their ISF offer. See below: West Midlands Action Learning Set – the Story so far.

Chris and Helen invited people to attend the next learning set on 25th January 2017.

Frances Brown formerly of Inclusion Glasgow and John Dalrymple of Neighbourhood Networks shared their learning of successfully implementing ISF’s in Scotland and described ISF’s as the missing piece of the jigsaw within self directed support.  In response to the question: Why an Individual Service Fund? they explained:

wmadass wm adass isf

Their advice to commissioners was not to micro manage ISF arrangements. Accountability is important but financial and contract monitoring arrangements should be proportionate and appropriate to the budget. Providers were encouraged to think about developing their ISF offer- What can you start to do differently now?

Hearing a personal account of how ISF’s proved to be a game changer for one young man Callum and his family was very inspiring.

Delegates were then set a task to:

  1. identify the opportunities and barriers that impinge on the development of ISF’s where you work
  2. identify some actions (at least three!) you could take that would more readily facilitate the development of ISF’s where you work

Examples of actions:

  • Host a workshop with the councils we work with and start an ISF pilot. Identify potential for how ISF’s could offer more flexibility when delivering 15minute slots –Accord Group
  • Take back into organisation and discuss with procurement team. Would like to test out ISF’s as part of development of new models of care and support. – Walsall Council
  • Work with front line social care staff to raise awareness of our ISF offer– Coventry City Council
  • Make sure we have a shared vision for ISF’s with our lead commissioners; Identify more people who would benefit from an ISF.- Heart of England Mencap
  • Meet with providers to get the discussion going and to look at how it would work – Telford Council
  • Big opportunity to introduce ISF’s; Engage staff – raise awareness within organisation; review human resources ; Would like to offer sector led leadership role to act as an ambassador for ISF’s – Midland Mencap
  • Model and explore ISF offer with/ for providers offering community options – How could providers that don’t have a contract with a council  offer ISF’s?– Community Catalysts
  • Take back to Directors and reflect on how ISF’s could work within a shared lives setting. – Shared Lives West Midlands
  • Start to test out ourselves – there are things we can start to do- until the LA is ready. Longhurst Friendship group


Useful Resources


West Midlands Action Learning Set – the Story so far

Presentation – John Dalrymple

Presentation – Simon Duffy

Presentation – Frances Brown – Inclusion Glasgow, The DNA of ISFs

Presentation – Frances Brown – ISF: what, why, how

Callum’s story: Callum and Moira

Callum’s story: The Provider and the Council

Where to go for more information

What delegates said about the workshop:

“Timely, Excellent, Personal Stories- good evidence”

Excellent to hear from real experience

“Strong focus on larger packages- would like to look at the many with small personal care hours”

“Steered me in the right direction as a new provider”

“Good to hear a story from a provider perspective”

“Excellent session – really shaped thinking”

“Aims achieved – now have a much better understanding of how ISF’s can/should work”

Reinforced reason for being in this work; Great useful and thoughtful content; challenging; the start of a changing process and conversation which can help, enable, challenge and empower. Thank you

“Good to network with colleagues on how they are piloting ISF’s”

Notes by Helen Turner- Associate IEWM

Some images from the day

img_3036 img_3035-2 img_3037-2


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