Direct Payments provide users and their carers with a flexible and personal service – but a lack of information limits their use across Scotland, according to a new report by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.
Direct Payments are made by councils to people receiving social care services, instead of the council providing the service directly. Research into the use of Direct Payments in Scotland (and in particular, rural areas) showed that most users and their carers thought they provided a more flexible service than the equivalent local authority service.
The report, which was funded by the Scottish Government and carried out by VSA Carers Centre a network member of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, looked into the current uptake of Direct Payments in caring situations and how this benefits carers in rurally isolated areas. Its recommendations include:
- developing and putting in place a Direct Payments information strategy which sets out accurate, clear and realistic advice
- making the administration of Direct Payments simpler
- giving local authorities more flexibility in allowing the use of Direct Payments.
The report also recommends more training for social workers so that they know how Direct Payments can enhance their clients’ lives and more promotion of Direct Payments to voluntary organisations.
Direct Payments were introduced in 2001 and by law, every local authority has to have a direct payments scheme for adults and children with care needs. Scottish Government statistics from 2001-2008 show a very variable take up of Direct Payments across Scotland.
The report found that the bulk of people (72%) said they had better service for the person they looked after because of Direct Payments rather than using the local authority managed service, 73% of carers said Direct Payments met their needs, and 32% of carers were disappointed about the Direct Payment information they received from professionals when they first contacted them. In addition, carers found that the time it took to get Direct Payments varied from one day to six years.
Examples of the creative use of Direct Payments include a family with a severely disabled daughter who needed to be tube fed. They lived in a rural and remote area where there were few people with the skills to carry this out. A member of staff at a local school was trained to manage the tube feeding so that the girl could attend school. A Direct Payment was agreed one weekend in six to pay for the same school assistant to provide respite by spending the weekend with the girl to enable her family to spend quality time with their other children.
In another example, Direct Payments helped a woman looking after her husband who had dementia. When he became agitated, the family’s beloved dog would start barking and jumping around and the woman struggled to cope with them both. She used a Direct Payment to buy a kennel for the garden so that she could put the dog in the kennel when her husband became agitated.
Florence Burke, Director for Scotland of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, said: “The report paints a valuable picture of what is going on with Direct Payments across Scotland. We would urge local authorities and councilors to read the report so that they can move towards providing a more flexible and innovative Direct Payments to clients and their carers.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The full report is available at www.carers.org/professionals
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers is the largest provider of comprehensive carers support services in the UK. Through its unique network of independently managed Carers’ Centres and interactive websites – www.carers.org and www.youngcarers.net – The Trust currently provides quality information, advice and support services to carers of all ages and backgrounds.
There are 29 Carers’ Centres throughout Scotland, delivering services in almost all local authority areas from Orkney to the Borders and currently reaching 50,000 carers. The network reaches 3,000 young carers through its young carers' services as well as offering support to all young carers' services in Scotland through our support for the Young Carer Alliance.
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