New Direct Payments vision opens doors for people to live their lives the way they want
Open and honest, flexible and creative, clear and simple: this is the council’s new co-produced Direct Payments vision and policy
The new vision and policy on Direct Payments approved by Cabinet yesterday (Monday 8 February 2021) will make it possible for many people who have care and support needs to be able to think ‘outside the box’ and be more creative and innovative when making choices that improve their health and wellbeing. It is clear and easy to follow, and because it has been written from a variety of perspectives, it is easier for people to relate it to their own experience.
A new vision, and a vision of co-production
The new vision and policy has been made possible thanks to the efforts of those who already receive Direct Payments, staff and partners across the council working together to review and change the approach to Direct Payments, to better reflect the lifestyle of those who use them.
A member of the policy group who receives a Direct Payment told the council:-
“Thank you everyone for understanding and appreciating how important a Direct Payment can be to a recipient. I know it’s taken up a lot of people’s time and brain power. Hopefully, we can help current users and new recipients to make the most of one, and be able to use it in a flexible way.”
People told the council how they felt about Direct Payments in 2019 through a countywide Direct Payments event hosted by the council and supported by Think Local Act Personal. People were very clear about how they felt and what change they wanted to see.
A long-term recipient of a Direct Payment who worked on the policy told us:-
“Having been one of the pilot project recipients in Shropshire to receive a Direct Payment in late 1989, I have spent years trying not rock the boat and been fearful of losing the independence afforded to me managing my own team of PAs. Having been invited to take part in revamping the way DPs are offered to people in need of support, I have been pleased to have been an active part of the development of the new Shropshire Council Direct Payments policy. Raising my head above the parapet, I’ve learned that behind the concrete walls are people who are passionate about helping people to live the lives they want, in the way that they want.”
From this, a new vision was developed made up of the following three statements:-
- Open and honest: Working together, through open and honest communication, the right information can be shared, from the first decision to have a Direct Payment and every step of the way after.
- Flexible and creative: Working together, Direct Payments can be used in flexible and creative ways, so that they support wellbeing and the lives people want to lead.
- Clear and simple: Working together, Direct Payments can be straightforward and managed in a clear and simple way which develops skills and confidence as an employer.
The three statements will underpin the way that people can use and manage their Direct Payment and will support social care staff to understand their responsibilities.
Another person who manages a Direct Payment for their brother said:-
“It is so much clearer for me to understand what it is that is considered, and also what is not considered for a Direct Payment.”
Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult social care, public health and climate change, said:
“We know that people who have used Direct Payments expressed a real sense of vulnerability and challenge about their experiences, and asked for change. This meant that many were put off in pursuing these payments.
“However, thanks to the efforts of those involved in our Direct Payments event and Mend the Gap programme, we have listened and have come up with a ‘common sense’ approach to help people make better and more fitting choices to help improve their health and wellbeing.
“We have a key role in ensuring that people are given relevant and timely information about Direct Payments, so that they can make a decision whether to request a payment, and, if doing so, are supported to use and manage the payment appropriately.
“We also remain committed in continuing to increase the numbers of people using Direct Payments and allow more carers to use Direct Payments in more creative ways, to help them live the lives they want.”
You can find out more information about Direct Payments here: https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/shropshire-choices/money-matters/what-is-a-personal-budget/direct-payments/
The Government have also issued guidance for people receiving Direct Payments and personal budgets during the pandemic here
What is a Direct Payment?
Direct Payments are monetary payments made to people to meet some or all of their eligible care and support needs, to provide personalised care and support. They provide independence, choice and control by enabling people to commission their own care and support in order to meet their eligible needs.
Mend the Gap programme
Mend the Gap included people who use Direct Payments or manage them for others, social workers, students and an academic from Wolverhampton University. The aim was to look for gaps in understanding, in three directions:
1) People who use and experience Direct Payments; 2) Adult social care and the gaps in understanding; 3) Universities training people to be social workers.
Mend the Gap supported this to happen by bringing together a dedicated group of people to begin breaking down some of these barriers and to address some of the tricky issues.
Shropshire Council currently spend approximately £8.5m per annum on Direct Payments, which are seen as a more cost-efficient way of procuring care for service users that require domiciliary support.