Most social care users are receiving a 'one size fits all' service, according to the Commission for Social Care Inspection's final annual report.
The regulator said many were not getting the care they needed and reforms to make services more personal had not yet succeeded.
"Personalisation means putting people at the centre of the design and delivery of services, acting to respect their rights and choices, and providing support to enable people to live their lives the way they wish," said the report, The State of Social Care in England 2007-08.
"A year on from the publication of [government strategy] Putting People First, and despite steady improvements, most people still experience a one-size-fits-all model of care that is not geared towards people's individual needs."
Development of personalisation was "patchy", the report said, and there were "different understandings of and commitments" to the aim.
The commission said the past six years had seen a "steady improvement" in overall performance of councils in meeting policy requirements and minimum standards.
The report also said concerns remained about people who were outside of the publicly funded care system.
"In the current situation of resource pressures and increased demand, there continues to be a tension between resourcing support for those people with highest levels of need and investing in a raft of services, including universal, open access and rehabilitative services, which can maintain people's independence and improve their quality of life," it said.
CSCI chair Dame Denise Platt said: "People who need social care should be seen as individuals, first and foremost.
"The support they receive should be tailor made, allowing people to live their lives as they choose. If we get it right for people with complex needs, it is likely that we'll get it right for everyone."
Mencap head of campaigns and policy David Congdon said: "Once again we are faced with a report that highlights the growing gap between government policy and the reality faced by people with a learning disability who are finding it increasingly difficult to access services."