If you think you might be eligible you can ask your local authority for a community care assessment. If you are already receiving a service you can ask your social worker if you can receive direct payments instead.
You can use the money to recruit and pay personal assistants, purchase services from a care agency or from a respite service provider. The money cannot be used to purchase services from the Council who awarded the direct payments.
The money must be used to buy the level of care that your local authority has agreed to fund, following an assessment of need,. Regular audit checks are carried out to ensure the payments are being managed properly and payments can be stopped if they are being mismanaged or misused.
No. Direct payments are an alternative to services arranged directly by the local authority and, as separate funds provided to purchase assessed support services, are not considered as an income.
All adults receiving community care services are assessed to see if they have to contribute towards the cost of their care. The amount payable depends on your income and the type of services you receive and is currently capped at £60 per week in Wales. If you do have to make a contribution it is deducted before the direct payment is made.
You can employ anyone aged 16 or over, including a family member or partner who does not live at the same address as you (unless the Social Worker / Case Manager can argue 'exceptional circumstances'), as a personal assistant providing they are eligible to work and have a completed and verified Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS, formerly Criminal Records Bureau) check.
People using Diverse Cymru’s Direct Payment Support Services currently pay their personal assistants anywhere between £7.50 and £8.60 per hour. Your support worker will create a budget sheet based on your circumstances and help make a calculation of how much you can pay your personal assistant, taking into account ongoing costs such as ensuring there is contingency funding to pay for an employee’s annual leave and their cover.
Contingency plans should be put in place as part of the initial arrangements you and your support worker undertake although the responsibility ultimately lies with you. Relief staff should be recruited, or arrangements agreed with care agencies, to allow for unforeseen circumstances. Whilst Social Services have a duty of care, part of the agreement discussed when setting up direct payments is that the day-to-day management becomes your responsibility.
If your services are purchased from a care agency then the direct payments would normally cease until they were again required. Any personal assistants you have employed will be entitled to a retainer rate which is usually only paid for a maximum of 4 weeks at any one time but can differ depending on your personal circumstances.
Receiving direct payments is a choice; if you are finding managing them too difficult you can ask for extra support or choose to stop receiving them. Your social worker can discuss alternative services you can receive directly from your local authority instead.