Think Local Act Personal, a national partnership committed to transforming health and social care, introduced the Making it Real initiative in May 2012 to help increase the choice and control people with disabilities had over their support. People with disabilities, along with their families and carers, developed a set of principles identifying what they expected to receive from their personalised support.

As an organisation, we pride ourselves on enabling people with disabilities to be as independent as possible, so we were keen to get involved and developed a Making it Real action plan. The action plan identified the need for standards to be set around personalisation to provide staff with a best-practice guide and enable people we support to understand the support they are entitled to.

These unique personalisation standards are a set of six ‘I’ statements detailing the key areas that the people we support and the organisation deem to be absolutely necessary in order to deliver personalised support to each individual.

These standards are a true example of co-production in practice. People we support were involved throughout the initiative and each of the standards below were defined and created by people we support:

I choose the support that I receive

This ensures I have wider control over where I live, the staff that support me, and the way in which they support me. Staff will be competent, trained to support my individual needs, and be person-centred in their approach.

I receive my own money and choose how I spend it

I receive my own money and choose how I spend it, including on my home and support.

I have access to information and resources whenever I need or want, in a way that is accessible to me

This is so I can make informed choices about my support and my life. It should be available in the format that I choose.

I have opportunities to communicate my opinions, needs, wishes and desires whenever I choose to

This gives me control over my daily life. It allows me to make decisions, and control or change my support and how I am supported at any given time. I should also have the opportunity to influence Walsingham Support both locally and nationally.

I am encouraged to set my own goals and aspirations, and manage the risks in order to meet them

I choose what I want to do, when I do it and how I do it. It encourages me to become more independent and through active support allows me to improve my skills. It allows me to be in control and feel safe.

I have full control over my relationships and involvement in my community

I am in control of my personal relationships and leisure, and I have limitless opportunities, including work, studying and volunteering. I am a full and active citizen and participate in my community.

But we didn’t stop there. We wanted to ensure individuals were exercising maximum choice and control over their lives and receiving tailored support in line with the above statements. This was discussed with people we support and a personalisation audit was created.

The personalisation audit is an on-going project launched in April 2016 driven by our Personalisation Officer, a position we believe is unique to Walsingham Support. Our hope is that by 2019 the initiative will be controlled and delivered by people we support, or ‘experts by experience,’ making it a truly person-centred, co-produced initiative.

The audit provides a useful framework for staff members to reference. It is built upon examples of best practice and provides staff with a standard on which to base their support. Personal examples of people we support creating their own rotas, writing support plans and using assistive technology to become independent provides motivation for staff.

Change did not come quickly. The creation and development of both the personalisation standards and audit took 18 months altogether. But we recognise that for something to be truly co-produced, and woven into the fabric of an organisation, we need to give it time.

And it seems it has paid off. Since the initiative, people we support have become more aware of their rights and what they’re entitled to. They are demanding things rather than asking.

To further cement our commitment to ensuring that the people we support have choice and control over their support, and are able to shape service-level and organisational practices, we have grown our Personalisation Team to include our new Co-production and Involvement Assistant. This assistant will be supporting the implementation of our personalisation audits, and work to establish our own quality checkers group, to empower people we support to assess the quality of support we are providing as an organisation.

Along with a number of other support providers and commissioners, we have been involved in updating Think Local Act Personal’s Making it Real framework. Our Personalisation Officer, Dominique Richards, has attended a number of summits to contribute to the process. Once this has been published, we will be working with people we support to ensure that our own personalisation standards and audit reflect this, and the changes within the sector.

Dominique Richards Personalisation Office