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Individual Service Funds: What Are They?

George Griffiths

15 March 2021

Individual Service Funds: What Are They?

George Griffiths

15 March 2021

Wondering what an Individual Service Fund (ISF) is and how it works?

Essentially, an ISF is a way to allocate the personal budget a person’s local council will pay for their support.

The person receiving care works with the service provider to create a tailored care support plan that suits their individual needs.

Read on to hear more about Individual Service Funds, their benefits, and examples of how they can be used to deliver flexible person-centred care.

What is an Individual Service Fund (ISF)?

Firstly, a social worker will carry out an assessment of the individual’s support needs and the council will allocate funds accordingly.

This budget can then be used in one of three ways:

Direct payment - the money is given directly to the person, which they can use to organise and fund their own support.

Commissioned service - the council arrange care for the person by outsourcing to a local care provider.

Individual Service Fund - the council allocates the person’s budget to an organisation who will manage the budget. The organisation will work with patients to tailor a care plan to their needs.

Typically, there is a disparity between direct payments and commissioned service, with those organising their own services having more control, whilst council-organised services can be more prescriptive and inflexible.

The Individual Service Fund is therefore an ideal compromise between the two, ensuring more flexibility and control for those who may be unable to manage their own money.

How does an Individual Service Fund work?

  • The individual chooses an organisation to manage the ISF on their behalf
  • The organisation works with the person to tailor-make a plan for their care
  • The council sends the budget to the organisation, with clear stipulations that the money must be used exclusively for the individual’s care
  • The ISF is deployed in a way which is designed to be the best use of the money for the individual
  • The organisation keeps the individual completely up to date with how the budget is being used

Examples of how an ISF could be used

Maddy Bird from Love2Care Devon provided the following example of how an ISF could be used to provide better home care:

“In the past, we had a package of care brokered out where someone had been allocated funding to have assistance for a daily shower, although the person had only ever showered or bathed 2-3 times per week.

However, going to church was important for her. Had she had a holistic person-centred conversation, the budget could have allowed for personal care 3 days a week and the unspent budget of 4 days of personal care funding allocated for someone to take her to church and feel a part of her faith community.”

This illustrates how money can be handled better to get the most value for the individual, both preventing wastage and improving the satisfaction of the care receiver.

Benefits of an Individual Service Fund

Below are examples of the benefits of ISFs, although there are far more advantages than detailed below:

  1. Changing the basis of the relationship between people being supported and the supporters

Working with the individual, care providers can build trusted relationships where they can focus on what matters most to the care receiver, prioritising their own choices and goals for their health and wellbeing.

It will also ensure that not only their care needs are met, but more importantly, they feel they have purpose and meaning and that their care is provided in a way that they want to receive.

  1. Extending choice of control over care

An ISF is part of the solution to dissatisfaction with care. The individual chooses what care they’re given, where it’s given, who it’s given by, when it’s given, and how it’s given.

This empowers every person to be in the driving seat of their own care and support.

  1. Flexibility

The person receiving care is not limited by generic care plans that may not target their exact needs, and providers are not wasting money which could be better spent.

  1. Financial feedback on how budget is being spent

The individual can see where their money is going, and can make informed decisions accordingly based on the figures if they think the budget could be used better elsewhere.

Requirements for organisations providing ISFs

Currently, many local authorities haven’t set up a framework or the option for people to choose to have their care via an Individual Service Fund.

Similarly, care organisations must have the facilities to be able to deliver the ISF.

This includes:

  • The ability to provide support to people planning their individual budgets
  • The capacity to tailor care to individual needs
  • Ingrained transparency and strong communication with the person
  • Facility to report back on budgets and spending
  • Continued flexibility and adaptability to change plans based on what works and what doesn’t work for the individual


In conclusion, Individual Service Funds offer a myriad of benefits to the person receiving care, giving them choice and flexibility in the care they receive based on their individual needs.

If commissioners procure the right organisations driven by the right leadership to deliver ISFs which are truly person-centred then the benefits could be huge - to the person in receipt of care, their circle of support, the local authority themselves, the provider, and the local community.

At uRoster, we are developing a new and exciting digital home care system that enables care providers to stay connected with their staff and clients whilst keeping on top of accurate and compliant care records. Find out more here.

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