Direct payments: Answering frequently asked questions

Question 11. What training might give me more confidence in working with direct payments?

Good practice is not only about the mechanisms of direct payments (DPs), but also about disability rights and how to promote independent living.

Training is needed at senior levels and for practitioners and should include material on independent living, the social model of disability (NCIL) and person-centred planning (Valuing People).

Link: National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL) Link: Valuing People

Training about direct payments should be included on social work training courses and in inductions for new staff, as well as for those undertaking specialist roles (e.g. a DP champion, people working with people with mental health impairments, assessment).

All training should be continuously reviewed and developed. There are good examples of training delivered by service users, who can talk first hand of their experiences and the differences that direct payments have made. The National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL) also offers consultancy and training on how to do direct payments.

The knowledge and confidence of care managers is crucial to the information and messages given to service users about their choice of direct payment and, therefore, its uptake. (19)

The following examples are taken from the practice survey.

We are introducing a new style of training where we have a day's training followed by half-day slots to deal with the specialities - e.g learning disabilities, older people, mental health impairments. There is a revamping of the course content, from the general overview to the specific case-focused work, with direct payment service users who have personal experience.

Hampshire LA

We provide a day on policy and procedure, practice guidance and updates on DH guidance for social workers including briefings on legislation and guidance and duty clauses. Via partnership board we do briefings on issues like trusts, independent living, etc (practitioners invited). Briefings are also regularly sent to senior/middle managers.

Gateshead LA

There is good take-up of the training - high demand, always people waiting for the courses. Coordinated by the council but involves the user network and support and advocacy services - they have also helped design the training. Social work staff were also consulted.

Essex LA

Several people in the practice survey suggested that joint training between the local authority and the direct payment support organisation would be an ideal method of delivering training.

This would enable participants to hear the perspectives and experiences of recipients of direct payments with expertise and of colleagues who have successfully implemented them.

Direct payments coordinator provides training, meets social workers on an individual and group basis. Example case loads are used to show how to deal with different issues that can occur. Independent Living Trust (ILT) coordinator develops training to suit care managers. They all seem to be able to promote DPs, as numbers have greatly increased.

Hounslow LA