In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Personalization

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Reference Resources
  • International Views
  • Independent Living
  • Direct Payments
  • Individual Budgets
  • Self-Directed Support
  • UK Public Policy Reform
  • Social Workers
  • Coproduction
  • Mental Health Recovery
  • Equality and Diversity

Social Work Personalization
Sarah Carr, Mike Fisher
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 December 2009
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0066


This entry is an introduction to the concept of personalization in social care. Personalization is a way of expressing a value-based concept that is driving much of current Western welfare reform in adult services, and the specific use of the term is most notable in United Kingdom policy. In essence, the approach means starting with the individual as a person with strengths and preferences who may have a network of support and resources, which can include family and friends. Clients may have their own funding sources or be eligible for state funding. The challenge is to develop services and systems that are responsive to the individual person and that promote choice and control rather than fitting the person into traditional patterns of provision. Personalization reinforces the idea that individuals are best placed to know what they need and how those needs can be best met. The literature relating to personalization is currently emerging, both for practice and for policy. The research base to date has mainly focused on personal and individual budget schemes, but this entry also includes references to literature discussing implications for wider social care practice and policy reform issues.

Introductory Works

Personalization is an emerging concept and has only existed as a common term in United Kingdom social services for adults since 2006–2007. Much of the material listed in this section focuses on particular debates and speculation about the implications of the policy for various social care stakeholders, including social workers and those who provide and use social care services. Leadbeater 2004 and Leadbeater, et al. 2008 are written from a social policy reform perspective and offer a conceptual and definitional base. Beresford 2008, Beresford 2009, Carr and Dittrich 2008, and Dowling, et al. 2006 are focused on origins, implications for practice, and the potential of personalization for improving service user outcomes. Currently, the main publications offering an evidence-based overview and a comprehensive assessment of the policy agenda and its implications are in this section.

  • Beresford, Peter. 2008. What future for care?. York, UK: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

    A discussion document arguing for radical change in United Kingdom social care policy and practice to enable personalization.

  • Beresford, Peter. 2009. Whose personalization?. Think Pieces no. 47. London: Compass.

    Pamphlet exploring and critiquing the implementation of personalized social care services in the current UK system with the current level of resourcing and relationship with the National Health Services. Designed to promote debate about the policy.

  • Carr, Sarah, with Rachel Dittrich. 2008. Personalisation: A rough guide. London: Social Care Institute for Excellence.

    A fifty-two-page report setting out the current understanding of personalization in the English context as early evidence emerges and challenges are identified. This is also available as an illustrated “easy read” version for people with learning disabilities.

  • Dowling, Sandra, Jill Manthorpe, and Sarah Cowley, with Sarah King, Vicki Raymond, Wendy Perez, and Pauline Weinstein. 2006. Person-centred planning in social care: A scoping review. York, UK: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

    This study describes how person-centered planning began in the United Kingdom, discusses the existing evidence base, and explains why many practitioners find it an effective way to support people with social care needs. Helpful background material for understanding the concept of personalization in social care.

  • Leadbeater, Charles. 2004. Personalisation through participation: A new script for public services. London: Demos.

    Key influential report outlining a potential new script for public services. Drawing heavily on the thinking of independent living campaigners, it emphasizes the importance of choice and control and the direct participation of the people who use services.

  • Leadbeater, Charles, Jamie Bartlett, and Niamh Gallagher. 2008. Making it personal. London: Demos.

    A politically influential report from a United Kingdom social policy think tank. Based on evidence concerning the implementation of personal budgets, which are a mechanism for delivering personalization to some groups.

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