One of the core principles which underpins work with adults is personalisation. This principle places the person at the centre of the process and gives them more choice about the care they receive and they are also able to exercise control in relation to receiving that care.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) and personalisation share core values. The MCA states that a person should make their own decisions and where this is not possible because they lack the mental Capacity to do so, that they should play as big a role as possible in decision making processes that directly affect them.
Direct payments support the personalisation principle. They are cash payments, made in lieu of social care service provisions, to people who have been assessed as needing care services. They can be made to disabled people aged 16 or over, to people with parental responsibility for disabled children, and to carers aged 16 or over in respect of carer services.
Where a person who is eligible to receive direct payments lacks the capacity to manage the direct payment themselves, it may be paid to a suitable person. The suitable person must be available and willing to make support decisions and manage the direct payment on the person’s behalf.
2. The Suitable Person
The suitable person can be:
- A carer, relative or friend;
- Someone appointed by the Court of Protection;
- Someone appointed under a lasting power of attorney, who has health and welfare and / or property and financial decision making powers;
- An independent support broker.
The choice of the suitable person must satisfy the best interests requirements of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This includes the eligible person being consulted about who they want to manage their direct payment. A suitable person who receives direct payments on behalf of the eligible person lacking capacity must:
- Act in the best interests of the person;
- Ensure the eligible person has as much input as possible in decision making regarding issues that affect them;
- Let Adult Social Care know as soon as possible if the eligible person may be regaining the capacity to make their own decisions.
3. Applying to be a Suitable Person
Those who wish to be considered as a suitable person should contact Adult Social Care within the local authority area in which the eligible person lives, to discuss making an application.
In some situations, it may be appropriate for a person who lacks capacity to receive direct payments through a User Controlled Trust, also called Independent Living Trusts. They are legal commitments with legal duties and responsibilities for those who are trustees. They can be set up to help manage direct payments, but they can also manage other money, including social security benefits. For more information see Direct Payments, National Health Service.