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Social care managers and care workers’ understandings of personalisation in older people’s services

Martin Stevens (King’s College London, London, UK)
Jo Moriarty (King’s College London, London, UK)
Jess Harris (King’s College London, London, UK)
Jill Manthorpe (King’s College London, London, UK)
Shereen Hussein (University of Kent, Canterbury, UK)
Michelle Cornes (King’s College London, London, UK)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 6 December 2018

Issue publication date: 6 March 2019



The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of personalisation policy on the providers of social care services in England, mainly to older people, within the context of austerity and different conceptions of personalisation.


The paper draws on part of a longitudinal study of the care workforce, which involved 188 interviews with managers and staff, undertaken in two rounds.


Four themes were identified: changing understandings and awareness of personalisation; adapting services to fit new requirements; differences in contracting; and the impact on business viability.

Research limitations/implications

The paper reflects a second look at the data focussing on a particular theme, which was not the focus of the research study. Furthermore, the data were gathered from self-selecting participants working in services in four contrasting areas, rather than a representative sample.

Practical implications

The research raises questions about the impact of a commercial model of “personalised care”, involving personal budgets (PBs) and spot contracts, on the stability of social care markets. Without a pluralistic, well-funded and vibrant social care market, it is hard to increase the consumer choice of services from a range of possible providers and, therefore, fulfil the government’s purposes for personalisation, particularly in a context of falling revenues from local authorities.


The research presents an analysis of interviews with care providers and care workers mainly working with older people. Their views on personalisation have not often been considered in contrast to the sizeable literature on PBs recipients and social workers.



Stevens, M., Moriarty, J., Harris, J., Manthorpe, J., Hussein, S. and Cornes, M. (2019), "Social care managers and care workers’ understandings of personalisation in older people’s services", Working with Older People, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 37-45.



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