SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Everyone who has been assessed as eligible to receive services from the local authority must be assigned a personal budget and asked if they want to take their personal budget as a direct payment. If they lack the mental capacity to manage the budget, the worker should make their close relative/carer aware of direct payments. The local authority has a duty to make sure the close relative/carer is suitable, and the criteria for assessing this are set out in step 2 below. If the customer does not have the mental capacity to manage a direct payment and there is no suitable person available to them to act as a suitable person, then the suitability of an Individual Service Fund should be explored. If none of these options are possible, the customer should be offered a managed budget.

1. Principles

Direct Payments enable customers to choose, pay for and manage the care and support they receive; giving them more control over their lives. Carers and family members should be encouraged to be involved and staff should not unduly influence or manage a customers’ choice unless asked to do so. Staff may provide information about the choices available but should not recommend providers.

Customers should be supported to explore a range of diverse options when developing the care and support package to meet their unmet eligible social care needs. This should include exploring what is available within their local communities to enable them to develop connections within their local area, rather than the support always delivered through a paid service response.

Staff should support customers to obtain value for money and seek low cost or no cost solutions when purchasing services through a direct payment and should provide the customer with relevant information to enable them to choose and manage their own support.

2. Procedural Steps

Step Action By Whom
1. Complete a Resource Allocation System (RAS) Tool with the customer and tell them the indicative amount. Explain the amount is a guide only to enable the customer to meet their social care needs. Social worker / assistant/ occupational therapist/ sensory impairment worker
2. Explain Direct Payments to the customer. If they would like to receive a direct payment, assess their mental capacity to make decisions around their care and support and to manage a Direct Payment. If they do not have capacity, find out whether they have a relative or friend who would be a suitable person to manage the payment on their behalf. A suitable person is one who:
  • Has mental capacity to manage the payment;
  • Is able and willing to do so in a way which is in the person’s best interest;
  • Will manage the payment honestly and transparently.
Social worker / assistant/occupational therapist/ sensory impairment worker
3. Make sure the customer or the suitable person understands both their responsibilities and the support available to them as a Direct Payment holder and / or employer. Workers must ensure:
  • Customers understand their responsibility to manage their Direct Payments and that they should hold the Direct Payment funds in a separate bank account;
  • Customers understand the audit process and the need to keep all paperwork and bank statements;
  • Customers are provided with advice and information about the range and choice of support services available and the choice of providers;
  • Customers know about the support services commissioned by the Local Authority which are available to them to manage their employment of a personal assistant should they wish to employ one;
  • Customers understand they cannot employ a personal assistant until they have been through the start up process with the company nominated to provide support to set up the employment.
Social worker / assistant/occupational therapist/ sensory impairment worker
4. Once the customer understands the above, support him/her to complete an Outcome Focused Support Plan (to follow). Social worker / assistant/occupational therapist/ sensory impairment worker
5. If the customer is keen to progress with a Direct Payment and either has the mental capacity to manage one or has someone available to act as a suitable person, complete the Costing Sheet ‘I will manage’ attached to the Outcome Focused Support Plan. Social worker / assistant/occupational therapist/ sensory impairment worker
6. Submit the completed RAS, Outcome Focused Support Plan and Forum Front Sheet, plus any other supporting documents for approval by the Locality Forum. Social worker / assistant/occupational therapist/ sensory impairment worker
7. Following approval, the direct payment user/ their family or carer should identify a suitable bank account and complete a BACS form with the bank details. If they have difficulty managing money or opening a bank account, discuss alternative finance support for customers such as that available from the Credit Union. Customer/ Social Worker/ assistant /occupational therapist/ sensory impairment worker
8. Make sure the direct payment user and their family / representative understand their responsibilities as detailed on the contract pages of the Direct Payment Agreement Form (to follow) then complete. This document should only detail the direct payment elements of the customer’s package. The yearly costing should only reflect the direct payments. Ask the customer to sign the form to confirm their understanding of the contract. Customer/ Social Worker/ assistant /occupational therapist/ sensory impairment worker
9. Arrange for the Direct Payment / Personal Budget Agreement Form to be signed by your manager. Social Worker/ assistant /occupational therapist/ sensory impairment worker
10. Send the Direct Payment / Personal Budget Agreement Form, Support Plan and BACS form to the Direct Payment Finance Officer (Fairer Charging Team). Social Worker/ assistant /occupational therapist/ sensory impairment worker
11. The Fairer Charging Officer will check that all the costing’s are correct and forward the paperwork to the appropriate support service. Fairer Charging Officer