Some of you may not actually be aware of what direct payments are.
Social services come out and assess a person with a disability or child to see what their care needs are. From that, a parent (or the person with a disability) can be offered a set amount of hours per week that they are entitled to “buy” the services of someone else to care for them.
We were assessed and approved to receive 8 hours worth of Direct Payments a week for middler.
I can use them for
- short breaks (take this to mean a few hours a week with a carer who takes them out)
- nursery place / after school clubs with specialist support (read £37.50 per day for special needs after school club).
- club fees (not many clubs going around that will take special needs children)
- personal care (hahahahahaha)
Direct payments means that we need to find our own staff to carry out the jobs above. Aside from the fact that most of the people who could benefit from direct payments don’t have the ability to interview staff and deal with their employment, the pool of staff who are any good is very very low.
The council may advise and carry out police checks on staff, but the responsibility for the staff shifts from social services / the council – TO YOURSELF.
This means that if anything goes wrong, it’s your own fault.
When you do find someone who you “trust”, you then have to sort out the employers insurance and their tax and national insurance contributions – oh and pay the PAYE to the inland revenue. Yes, you can use a payroll company, but you still have to sort out hours, payslips and HMRC.
The biggest problems with it are:
- Finding good staff that don’t make a fool of the service users (middler to me).
- Finding good staff who have enough time to do it.
- Arranging the staff time with your child and having to pay for that as well.
- Risking losing the care package as there are not enough people to do it.
What happens is, that if someone doesn’t manage to use up their direct payments because they can’t get staff, then when they reach the next review, they may well have some of the money taken back, and their hours cut as they will be seen to be not needed as they were not used.
- My package is for my child. As well as the huge mountain in finding someone to take responsibility for our children at times we need to find the time to do the regular stuff that other people can do with their kids as part of their daily lives (like homework).
- My biggest bugbear (not including not being able to find employees) is that I really could be done with someone doing my housework or making the supper sometimes so that I can spend quality time one to one with my middler.
- The person who I PAY to take him out gets to spend the quality one to one time with my boy on my sterling, and I still have to stay up late to do chores as they have to be done as I have to spend the time he does go away doing the homework etc for the other two. (yes, direct payments covers the cost of their time, but I have to pay for the carers share of where they go and what they do).