Direct payments are payments made directly to service users. They are intended to give people greater choice in how they want their care needs met and must be sufficient to enable the person to purchase services to meet their eligible needs. The payments are means tested, so their value is dependent on the person’s income and assets as well as their eligible needs. Service users can get support in fulfilling these responsibilities from direct payment support services commissioned by local authorities.
Regards supports a number of people with Direct Payments who purchase outreach support from us or sessions at our OWL services.
Individual Budgets or Personal Budgets are again an allocation of funding to an individual after an assessment of their needs. Many of these assessments are carried out using the Resource Allocation System (RAS) in which a person answers a series of set questions choosing from a set number of answers which are scored. The scores are then converted in to pounds and a budget is then set which should be sufficient to meet their assessed needs.
Individuals can manage the budget directly (Direct Payments for example) or choose how their care needs are met but leave the responsibility to actually commission/purchase the services to the Local Authority. These are known as Council Managed Budgets (CMB) or another alternative is an Individual Service Fund (ISF) in which the budget is held by a care provider with the service user choosing how some of it is spent. ISF’s and CMB’s can be used to pay for residential care if this is agreed as meeting the needs and is within the budget allocated.
Under current Central Government directives all councils are moving to a position where they offer people eligible for social care support the option of a Direct Payment, an Individual Budget often managed by the council, a service commissioned by the council or a mixture of any of the three.
Within Regard we have the knowledge and expertise to help provide guidance to individuals and care professionals about how the various options can be selected and resourced to enable to best package of support for an individual and their family.