Direct payments in residential care trailblazer sites

Can choice and control for people living in residential care be increased through direct payments?  That’s the question that a Department of Health programme of work is in the process of answering.  On 1 November 2013, an amendment to the direct payment regulations allowed local authorities, for the first time, to offer direct payments for people living in long-term residential care. This followed the commitment in the Caring for our Future White Paper to test this approach. Following an open expression of interest, fourteen local authorities Trailblazer sites are now working hard to see how direct payments in residential care improve outcomes and increase choice and control for people living in this form of accommodation.

The programme is being evaluated by the Policy Innovation Research Unit (PIRU) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Trailblazer sites provide regular information and feedback to the evaluators for analysis. Four local authorities have also agreed to become ‘deep dive’ sites where more in-depth research is being carried out.  An interim report will be submitted to the Department of Health in December 2014, and in summer 2015, with the final report due in 2016.

SCIE was commissioned by the Department of Health to manage and support the trailblazer programme. The charity is the initial contact point for trailblazer sites and it organises quarterly learning events in local authority areas in England where people from participating local authorities - and their providers - come together to discuss progress and share best practice and learning.  Trailblazers have also joined the Knowledge Hub, a web-based resource where documents are posted, information disseminated and issues discussed.  SCIE also coordinates meetings for the programme’s Department of Health Steering Group. This group, comprising adult social care stakeholders provides guidance, information and strategic advice to ongoing programme.  SCIE will also work with the Department of Health to disseminate the findings of this important work so that local authorities, all of which will have to offer direct payments in residential care from April 2016, can benefit from the learning.

The following local authorities are trailblazer sites:

London Borough of Enfield
London Borough of Redbridge
Milton Keynes
North Lincolnshire

Related links
SCIE work on personalisation