Review of Direct Payments Scheme leads to changes to make them easier to understand and use

Adults who use Direct Payments in Cornwall will now find them much easier to understand and use, following a review by Cornwall Council.

The Council worked with disAbility Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, a user led disabled people’s organisation, and people who use Direct Payments to change the adult social care Direct Payment Agreement, which was identified as a key action to address.

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Direct Payments are a sum of money allocated to someone as a Personal Budget to meet their eligible care and support needs. People use them to directly employ a personal care assistant or pay directly for the services they need. This gives people more choice and control over their care and support and when and how it is delivered.

The review identified that the former Direct Payment Agreement was not clear enough Some people were unaware of how their funds could be used, and of their duties and responsibilities. The review also identified the need for greater monitoring of Direct Payment accounts. This means that unused funds should not build up. Instead funds can be put back into the social care budget for the benefit of other people with eligible care needs.

The Agreement was produced in ‘easy read’ by CHAMPs, a team of 10 people with learning difficulties. A formal version of the agreement is still available for those who prefer it. However, Cornwall Council will use the Easy Read Agreement for everyone from now on.

Cornwall Council Portfolio Holder for Adults, Rob Rotchell said: “The new agreement is being sent to all current Direct Payment users and will be used for all new clients from now on.

"After a recent audit identified that changes were needed, we have worked with people who use the service to make sure that we make improvements, so we are confident that people will find the system much improved”.

Jane Johnson, Chief Executive of disAbility Cornwall said: “We were delighted to co-produce this new agreement and shaping it from the bottom up will ensure it works for the Direct Payment user as well as the Council.

"Many people have been confused about how to use their Direct Payments and as a result, have found themselves in difficult situations. We hope they will now be able to use them confidently and we hope more people will choose to use them as a result”.

The review also identified the need for a revised Direct Payment Policy, so that people will clearly understand how Direct Payments can be used to meet their needs and improve their choice, control and independence.

The new policy will also be developed in partnership with disAbility Cornwall, other voluntary sector organisations, and with people who currently have care and support needs. A draft will be ready by September 2019. There will be further opportunities for people to have their say at six consultation workshops around the County.

This review supports Cornwall Council’s priority to protect and improve the lives of vulnerable adults in Cornwall.

Posted on 20 August