Direct payments in residential care
From Sue Senior, Project Officer and Stella Smith, Team Manager, Surrey County Council
SCIE opinion – 14 April 2015
Pat is planning to use her direct payment to go an adult education class, to learn sign language, in order to communicate with a friend who has a hearing impairment. How a pilot scheme in Surrey is giving choice to people living in residential care.
Maintaining an interest in art, learning to use a computer, learning sign language and keeping control of care and support - these are just some of the benefits that people living in residential care in Surrey now have. This is because they receive a direct payment from the council.
Ahead of the funding reforms coming into force in April next year, the Department of Health selected a group of local authorities to test out the introduction of direct payments for people living in residential homes. Full details about the programme are on the SCIE website.
Surrey County Council is one of the ‘trailblazer sites’. Over the last two years, we’ve worked in partnership with people living in care homes, care providers and social care practitioners to see how direct payments might work in practice.
For example, three residents - Robert, Susan and Pat - have all lived in residential care in Surrey for many years. They attended a trailblazer event to find out more about the benefits for them.
Robert is a talented artist; he now uses a direct payment to join an art venture and build up his portfolio of work for exhibitions. Susan and Pat both wanted to choose weekly activities. Susan’s had IT training to help her to access the internet and keep in contact with friends and family. Pat is planning to use her direct payment to go an adult education class, to learn sign language, in order to communicate with a friend who has a hearing impairment.
Another resident, Gill, who is currently self-funding her care in Surrey, but nearing the threshold for local authority funding, has requested that future funding be arranged as a direct payment. She’s keen to do this so she can continue to manage her care and support, something that’s important to her.
When we first approached care providers about the trailblazer project, they were sceptical because they had been used to dealing directly with local authorities. But now they can see that direct payments can underpin a personalised, responsive, well-managed and caring service. The change in approach means care providers can offer new and innovative care home services which will be attractive to anyone who has a direct payment.
Surrey-funded people living in residential care, and all care homes registered with Surrey, have now received an information pack about direct payments and how to apply to get one. Our goal at the council is to raise awareness of the benefits of direct payments and encourage those living in residential care to see them as a way to improve choice and control and live their lives as they choose.