How can I use Direct Payments to get quality homecare?


If you have been assessed by Adult Social Services as being eligible for a care package and support funded by your local authority, you may have heard of or been offered the option of a Direct Payment.  But many people are not fully aware of what they are or what they are for.

Once you have been assessed by a Social Worker or another professional as meeting the criteria to receive a care and support service funded by the council, your level of need and amount of support required is calculated to establish what sort of care package you should receive – usually as a number of hours per week.

Once the size of the home care service has been agreed, the council will usually look to a provider with whom they have a contractual arrangement to provide the service.  This provider will have previously agreed charge rates for their services, and this hourly rate is multiplied by the number of hours will add up to your total Personal Budget.

For example, if it assessed that you need some support with getting washed and dressed every morning and this would take 45 minutes, then you would be allocated a service of 5.25 hours per week.  If the council has agreed rates of £18.00 per hour with their providers, then your total Personal Budget would be 5.25 x £18.00 = £94.50 per week.

Since the early 2000’s everybody who is eligible for a service is legally entitled to take their Personal Budget as a Direct Payment.  This means that instead of your local authority organising and buying your care and support service on your behalf, you can receive your Personal Budget into a bank account and use it to make your own arrangements.

The intention of Direct Payments is to increase the choice and control that people have over their services.  They mean that you can choose the provider or services that you feel will promote your independence and live the life that you want to the highest standard.

Direct Payments cannot be used for certain things such as paying bills, buying provisions, alcohol etc and your council will want to see evidence of what you are using it for – usually by inspecting invoices, receipts and bank statements.

You can use a Direct Payment to directly employ a Personal Assistant.  This provides you with complete control to organise your support schedule and activity as you wish, and to choose who this is delivered by.  If you choose this option, then you must bear in mind that you would also be responsible for advertising, recruiting and vetting your PA or Support Worker as well as for their tax and National Insurance contributions, holiday pay and you will require Employers Liability Insurance.  You would also need to make other arrangements to cover sickness and annual leave. 

Most local authorities have a bank of registered Personal Assistants. There are also companies who will manage the payroll, employment and training obligations on your behalf, however they will charge a fee for this service.  Your council is legally obliged to provide you with information and support if employing a Personal Assistant is your preferred option.

You can also your Direct Payment to engage the services of a provider or providers.  The hourly charge is likely to be higher than employing a Personal Assistant directly, however the provider will manage the recruitment and vetting processes, payroll and regular training updates, as well as being able to cover sickness and annual leave.  Your local authority will usually have a list of domiciliary care services in the local area for you to choose from if this is your preferred option.

See the Person are able to provide a quality home care service to individuals in receipt of a Direct Payment in Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster.  The innovative model that we use means that we are able to organise your care and support flexibly as you direct and in response to your changing needs and wishes.

Got family staying with you this week?  No problem, let’s save some of those hours for a nice trip next week.  Feeling a little under the weather?  Let’s have a bit more support this week and get you fighting fit.

Unlike most home care services, we actually want you to need us less over time.  For example, you may benefit from increasing your physical and mental activity by using part of your Direct Payment to engage in some local community events, attending some classes, learning a new skill or access volunteering or employment opportunities.  We will support you to increase your independence and wellbeing in these ways - working with you and your family and monitoring your progress.  Hopefully this means that you will be able to reduce the amount of support you need at home.

If you would like some more information about Direct Payments or our services, please get in touch.