1.2 Define the terms a. personalised service, b. self-commissioned service, c. self-directed support, d. micro-employer

1.2 Define the terms: a. personalised service, b. self-commissioned service, c. self-directed support, d. micro-employer

Understand Personalisation in Care and Support Services

Care Learning

6 mins READ

This guide will help you answer The RQF Level 4 Diploma in Adult Care Unit 1.2 Define the terms: a. personalised service, b. self-commissioned service, c. self-directed support, d. micro-employer.

Understanding Key Health and Social Care Terms

As a health and social care expert, it is crucial to comprehend specific terms used within the field. This not only enhances communication but also ensures the delivery of high-quality services. Below, we’ll define four essential terms: personalised service, self-commissioned service, self-directed support, and micro-employer. Each term plays a vital role in the UK’s health and social care landscape.

Personalised Service

A personalised service is tailored to an individual’s specific needs and preferences. This approach recognises that each person has unique requirements and life experiences. It moves away from a one-size-fits-all model. Instead, it centres on the person, not just their condition or disability.

A personalised service involves several elements:

  • Individual Assessment: An in-depth evaluation of the person’s needs, strengths, preferences, and goals.
  • Personal Support Plan: A plan developed in collaboration with the individual, detailing the support they require.
  • Choice and Control: Allowing the person to have a say in the services they receive and how they are delivered.
  • Flexibility: Adapting services as the person’s needs and circumstances change.

Personalised services ensure that care and support are respectful of and responsive to the individual’s needs. This approach can significantly improve the quality of life for people receiving care.

Self-Commissioned Service

A self-commissioned service is one where individuals take control of sourcing and arranging their own care services. Instead of the local authority or another agency commissioning services on their behalf, the individual has the freedom to decide what services they need and who provides them.

Here’s how it works:

  • Direct Payments: Individuals may receive direct payments from the local authority. This money allows them to purchase and arrange the care and support they require.
  • Independent Management: The person takes responsibility for managing their budget, choosing care providers, and ensuring their needs are met.
  • Flexibility and Autonomy: This approach provides the individual with greater autonomy and flexibility, allowing them to tailor care services precisely to their preferences.

Self-commissioned services can be empowering, giving individuals more control over their care and potentially leading to more satisfactory outcomes.

Self-Directed Support

Self-directed support is an approach that allows individuals to have choice and control over the support they need. It involves a more participatory process in managing one’s care, similar to self-commissioned services, but with a broader focus.

The key aspects include:

  • Personal Budgets: Instead of providing services directly, local authorities allocate a budget to the individual. This budget can be managed by the individual or with support from family, friends, or professionals.
  • Planning and Decision-Making: People choose how to spend their budget, including selecting different services, activities, and supports that meet their identified needs and goals.
  • Support Network: This can include informal support from friends and family, alongside paid services, contributing to a comprehensive support system.

Self-directed support emphasises the individual’s right to make decisions about their own life. It fosters independence and respects personal choices.


A micro-employer refers to an individual who employs their own care workers directly. This is usually within the context of using direct payments or personal budgets to fund their care and support.

Key points about being a micro-employer include:

  • Hiring Care Workers: The individual recruits and employs care workers or personal assistants (PAs). This gives them control over who provides their care.
  • Employer Responsibilities: As an employer, the individual must comply with employment laws. This includes paying wages, offering terms of employment, and ensuring safe working conditions.
  • Management Duties: This includes managing schedules, supervising the quality of care, and handling any employment-related issues.
  • Support and Guidance: Local authorities often provide resources and advice to help individuals manage their responsibilities as employers.

Being a micro-employer offers tremendous flexibility and control over one’s care, but it also comes with significant responsibilities. It requires a good understanding of employment laws and effective management skills.

Example answers for Unit 1.2 Define the terms: a. personalised service, b. self-commissioned service, c. self-directed support, d. micro-employer

Below are example answers from the perspective of a health and social care worker completing a unit on these terms: personalised service, self-commissioned service, self-directed support, and micro-employer.

Key Terms Example Answers

1.2 Define the Terms

a. Personalised Service

In my role as a care worker, I understand that a personalised service is a tailored approach to providing care. This means focusing on the individual’s unique needs, preferences, and life history, rather than applying a standardised care plan. For example, if I am working with an elderly client who has specific dietary needs and enjoys particular hobbies, a personalised service would ensure that their meal plans reflect their dietary requirements and include their favourite foods. Additionally, their daily schedule would incorporate activities they enjoy, such as a weekly gardening session, fostering greater happiness and engagement in their care.

b. Self-Commissioned Service

As a professional in health and social care, I am aware that a self-commissioned service allows individuals to take control of organising their own care. This means they decide which services they want and who will provide these services. For instance, a person with a disability might receive direct payments from the local authority to cover their care expenses. They could then use these funds to hire a specific care agency they prefer or even a personal assistant (PA) they trust. This empowers the individual to tailor their support arrangements to better fit their needs and preferences, rather than relying on pre-selected services offered by the local authority.

c. Self-Directed Support

In my experience, self-directed support allows individuals to have greater choice and control over how their care is provided. This approach involves providing a personal budget which the individual can manage independently or with assistance from others. For example, a person with chronic illness might receive a personal budget to utilise for various support services. They might choose to spend part of it on physiotherapy sessions, part on home care, and the rest on social activities that improve their mental well-being. By doing this, they can craft a care plan that addresses their holistic needs, encompassing both physical and emotional well-being.

d. Micro-Employer

Being a micro-employer means that the individual receiving care becomes an employer of their own care workers or personal assistants (PAs). This often happens when the individual uses direct payments to hire their staff. For example, an individual with a degenerative condition like ALS might use their direct payments to employ a team of carers to assist them with daily activities. As a micro-employer, they would be responsible for hiring, training, and paying their staff, as well as adhering to employment laws. This role provides the individual with significant control over who provides their care and how it is administered, although it also comes with administrative responsibilities.

Practical Application Example

Tailoring Personalised Services

In my work, one client I support is a 75-year-old woman with limited mobility and a passion for reading. To provide personalised services, I ensure her care plan includes ample time for reading. I also liaise with a local library to have books delivered to her home. This kind of service takes into account her personal interests and enhances her quality of life, making her feel valued and understood.

Empowering Through Self-Commissioned Services

Another example involves a young adult with learning disabilities who prefers to engage with specific community groups. I support him to use his direct payments to join a local drama club, which greatly improves his social skills and confidence. By self-commissioning this service, he has a direct say in how his care supports his personal growth and enjoyment.

Flexible Self-Directed Support

I also work with an individual who has a personal budget and uses it to engage in various therapeutic activities. This client allocates part of the budget for weekly counselling sessions and another part for arthritis-friendly yoga classes. Self-directed support in this case allows the individual to choose services that contribute both to their mental health and physical well-being, providing a balanced and comprehensive care approach.

Managing as a Micro-Employer

Finally, I assist a middle-aged woman with severe arthritis who acts as a micro-employer. She uses her direct payments to employ two personal assistants who help with daily tasks such as bathing, meal preparation, and house cleaning. I guide her through the responsibilities of an employer, including drafting contracts, setting work schedules, and ensuring compliance with employment regulations. This not only offers her personalised and consistent care but also gives her the stability of having a trusted care team.


Understanding and correctly applying these terms — personalised service, self-commissioned service, self-directed support, and micro-employer — is crucial in delivering high-quality, person-centred care. By embracing these approaches, I can empower individuals to live more independently and confidently, ensuring their care is tailored to their unique needs and preferences. This fosters a supportive and responsive environment that significantly enhances their quality of life.

These example answers demonstrate a thorough understanding of the terms and provide practical insights into how these concepts are applied in a real-world health and social care setting.


Understanding these terms is essential for anyone involved in the health and social care sector in the UK. Personalised services focus on tailored care that respects individual needs. Self-commissioned services give people control over arranging their own support. Self-directed support involves managing personal budgets to meet care needs. Finally, being a micro-employer means directly employing care workers to support one’s own needs.

The aim of all these approaches is to enhance the quality of life, provide greater autonomy, and ensure that care and support are delivered in ways that best suit

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