Thames Reach
Sunday 19 November 2017
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Michael Ferriter

Thames Reach offers services based on the principle of personalisation in which every person has the right to control their own lives and get greater control and choice on how they receive support.

Personalisation entails creating personal budgets for individuals and people are given the opportunity to plan and choose their own services, shifting the balance of power from organisations to individuals.

It’s a move away from services that are constructed on the assumed needs of service users towards new ways of working.

It builds on the person centred planning approach that has been developed at Thames Reach over the past few years.

Already Thames Reach’s personalised approach has given people the opportunity to influence the path they take away from homelessness.

In their work helping long-term rough sleepers off the streets, the Ace team navigators must find effective solutions that will ensure people settle in long-term accommodation.

Frequently the challenge is to help people develop new interests that keep them engaged.

Through focusing imaginatively on individual aspirations and giving people the chance to go beyond the normal limits in terms of articulating their ambitions, the team has pioneered new ways of helping people make progress.

One service user chose to use his budget to get a coaching badge and is now teaching football to children and teenagers.

Another decided that swimming lessons would help him to gain confidence and move forward in his life.

Thames Reach is also committed to working in partnership with others to develop new ways in which service users can genuinely choose and influence the services they receive.

Working with Resolving Chaos, and St Giles Trust, Thames Reach has been helping develop the E-Choice Channel.

This is an interactive website which, when developed, will allow service users with personal budgets to choose services, activities and products.

They will also be able to comment on the services they receive in the way that you can on, for example, Trip Advisor.

The project is benefiting greatly from the involvement of Thames Reach service users who are helping with each stage of its development.

Jeremy Swain, Thames Reach Chief Executive, said:  “Once service users are given real authority to select and comment on services, organisations, including Thames Reach, will have to be more responsive to their views and preferences and change what we offer accordingly. It will be exciting and challenging.”

The next step is a series of new pilot schemes which are being developed across Thames Reach and which will ensure service users get to spend their personal budgets in a way that suits them.

Jeremy, said: “The objective is to spread across the organisation examples of how personalisation is making an impact, encourage further use of personal budgets and ensure that what we are doing is disseminated more widely.”

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