Direct Payments are money paid to people with assessed care needs so that they can choose, arrange and pay for their own care services. Direct Payments make it possible for people to have more choice and control over the type of help and support they need.
Direct Payments can also be used to pay for some of your care while Social Care Services arrange the rest. This is a good way to see if a Direct Payment is what you want.
The Direct Payment Advisory Scheme in Somerset is provided for the County Council by an organisation called Enham. This is their latest newsletter.
The Direct Payments Scheme is a way of meeting your assessed community care needs by receiving cash payments instead of community care services. You can then recruit and employ personal assistants using the money or buy help to meet your assessed needs from recognised local care agencies. You can also meet your care needs by using a mix of personal assistants and agency staff.
Who can use it?
The Direct Payments Scheme is open to everyone who has been assessed to have a care need.
- Older people
- People with physical or sensory disabilities
- People with learning disabilities
- People with mental health problems
- Parents who care for disabled children and young people
How do I use it?
If you qualify for help with your care needs the social care worker who does your assessment will ask you if you would like to use the scheme. You can choose to have a Direct Payment. You must want to use the scheme and be able to manage your care arrangements, and keep information about how the money is used. You can ask someone to help you manage your Direct Payment, such as a friend, family member or volunteer.
Some people choose to have some of their care arranged by us and some by using Direct Payments.
If you use the Direct Payments Scheme you will have money paid into a separate bank account that is only used for your Direct Payments. The money can be used to buy the help your assessment has shown that you need. This may be personal care and some household tasks, day care or other support to use daytime activities, respite care and short breaks.
You cannot use Direct Payments for long-term residential care, to buy equipment for daily living or to pay for food, gas, electricity or other utilities. You can receive Direct Payments as well as benefits.
It is not the same as Direct Payments from the Department for Work and Pensions.
What happens next?
Before you start to use the scheme you will be asked to meet with a Self Directed Support Advisor from Enham who will explain how the scheme works. The advisor can help you decide if a Direct Payment is right for you. If you decide to use a Direct Payment they can support you with:
- Setting up a bank account
- Choosing an agency
- Choosing and employing staff
The advisor will tell you about the financial and other information you will need to keep. Enham will be able to offer a payroll service. Enham's phone number is 0845 504 6229, and their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
When you join the scheme Enham will be able to help you manage the paperwork for a short time until you are confident with it. Your Enham advisor will support you through the whole process, from deciding whether or not to use Direct Payments to setting everything up to get going. The advisor is there to support you once your arrangements are set up and if you have any problems or concerns about using your Direct Payments.
If you would like to know more about Direct Payments or to be assessed to find out if you qualify for the scheme, you can talk to your social care worker, if you have one, or phone us on 0845 345 9133, or contact Enham and talk to one of the Direct Payment advisors.
We make decisions on an individual basis about your ability to manage a Direct Payment. We take your views into account. Health professionals should be involved, where appropriate. Local authorities have the discretion to refuse Direct Payments to anyone that they consider would not be able to manage. Where a Direct Payment is refused, we will record the facts in the needs assessment.
If you choose to have a Direct Payment you will need to:
- Agree to meet with the Independent Direct Payment advisor from Enham
- Open a separate bank account
- Enter into a Direct Payment contract with Somerset County Council
- Choose who cares and supports you. However, you may not purchase care from a close relative living in the same household unless it is agreed that it is the only way your assessed needs can be met in the community. If you choose to employ a personal assistant, you must take on the responsibilities and duties of an employer. It is illegal to use a Direct Payment to buy care from an unregistered supplier. Your Direct Payment will stop if you choose to use your money in this way.
- Choose how to manage your care. For example, you could choose to have someone come into your home so that your unpaid carer can go out. You could arrange for someone to take you out to a group, club or activity. We will not restrict your choice of activity
- Decide how you use your Direct Payment. For example, the assessment may be for two whole days (four sessions) of service in a week. You may wish to use four separate sessions a week or have eight sessions in one week and have none the next
- Remain within budget and account for how you have used your money. You can ‘mix and match’ the services you purchase to meet your particular needs at any given time
- Agree to spend Direct Payment money appropriately to meet the things we agreed in your Support Plan. You could use it to pay for the costs of a driver to take you out
- Record how the money is spent using the Direct Payment ledger, supported by signed receipts where appropriate. You must comply with the monitoring requirements of the Direct Payments governance team
- Agree to provide accurate records for auditing purposes.
The Enham Direct Payment Support Service
Before signing the Direct Payment contract you must meet with an independent advisor. Enham provides the Direct Payments Advice Service in Somerset.
We have an arrangement with Enham that they can:
- Help you to understand the implications, responsibilities and risks of becoming an employer (For example, dealing with tax, national insurance, sick and maternity pay and CRB checks.) If you choose to employ someone yourself you must pay their income tax and National Insurance according to the rules set by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). If you do not, you may be prosecuted and fined by the HMRC.
- Offer practical support and help you complete your financial records
- Support with advertising, recruitment, and the interview process if the service if you decide to use a personal assistant
- Help you to access information about agencies and their rates in your area
- Give you advice on short breaks.
Enham will complete and distribute the necessary paperwork to start the Direct Payment. Once you receive a Direct Payment, Enham can offer ongoing support and advice about the Direct Payment Scheme if you ask them.
Please note: Enham will offer impartial advice and do not undertake needs assessments or calculate the amount of funding you need. This is done by the social care worker.