Types of Direct Payments
A direct payment is money for direct services to the person being cared for, after assessment, to meet specific identified needs and aims. They have to be spent on theses services as detailed in the support plan. If the money is spent on anything else that is not identified in the support plan as a need then this would be considered a misuse of the payment and requests can be made for repayment.
As a carer, if you are managing a DP for the person that you care for, it is really important that you understand what the payment is for. If you are in doubt, always check with social services!
Case example: a mother was getting a direct payment for her adult son who had expressed, during his social care assessment, that one of the things he wanted to achieve was to go to football matches with his friends. For a long period of time she paid for his football tickets using his direct payment, this was considered a misuse of the direct payment and she was told to pay back thousands of pounds. The issue arose even though she had been submitting paperwork to the local authority detailing what the direct payment was being used for, every few months.
It was not considered the responsibility of social services to actually pay for her son to watch football matches. Her son was very disabled and so required support in the community and so the payments were meant to be used for someone to assist him physically to both get to and manage whilst at the football ground; this would then have been considered a valid spend.
Carers Direct Payment
This is a made to a carer, to meet the needs identified during a Carers Assessment where they cannot be met by other services such as Enfield Carers Centre. Carers Assessment at ECC are for those caring for someone over the age of 18 or via a joint assessment if caring for someone younger.
These payments are subject to means testing, however, these generally tend not to be as strict as those applied to service users; for example, only having savings over £23,250 would impact on a carer’s eligibility for receiving a direct payment but other things such as income and benefits are not taken into account. When the payment is awarded you are sent a letter telling you what it can be spent on. As with other DPs if they are not spent correctly a repayment may be requested.
Mrs M is 56 and caring for her husband with Early Onset Dementia and admits during her Carers Assessment that she is unable to visit friends or get out to the hairdressers as she had to give up work and is financially unable to afford to go out or pay for replacement care for him.
She is awarded a Carers DP to pay for a weekly lunch with her friends and a monthly trip to the hairdressers.
She accesses ECC’s Replacement Care Scheme at no cost.
She keeps the receipts from the hairdressers and the restaurant and sends them to ECC after her annual review.
This is a correct use of her DP.
If Mrs M was using the money to pay her gas bill or to buy food shopping this would be incorrect and she would be asked to repay the money.