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Beyond Direct Payments

A new publication by Dr Simon Duffy and Angela Catley from Community Catalysts was published today by Think Local Act Personal (TLAP).

Personalisation was never meant to be about just spending a budget; instead it was supposed to focus on building on people’s gifts, talents and desires -not on professional conceptions of ‘need’- and on outcomes that strengthen the spirit and resilience of the person and their family…

Direct payments were intended to help people have choices and offer flexibility with how they manage their support. The reality is that for many, the extra work involved with having a direct payment does not make them an attractive or an easy option and people who receive direct payments can experience them as a burden. However there are alternative ways for local authorities to commission support that go beyond the limitations of direct payments.

Beyond Direct Payments: making the case for micro-enterprise, Individual Service Funds and new forms of commissioning in health and social care, discusses some of the different ways of commissioning support. They show that there are better ways to organise things so that:

  • people can get flexible support
  • people can be better connected to their communities
  • social workers can work according to their core values

Health and social care is not fully taking the opportunity to invest and support the potential of micro-enterprise as a support solution. Instead of standardised care solutions, microenterprises build on the assets of local people and local communities. They should be central to a better vision for health and social care in the twenty-first century. There are many micro-enterprises, up and down the country, but their work often goes unnoticed. They lack the means to trumpet success and they rarely fit neatly into large-scale plans: their value is closely connected to the fact they are rarely scalable. It is the particular passion of particular people in particular places that makes them work.

Christopher Watson, Joint Commissioning Manager at Dorset Council said:

In practice Individual Service Funds allow a far greater degree of choice and flexibility than traditional commissioned services and, in some ways, they can be easier to manage with less administration than Direct Payments. In Dorset we have already seen the ISF approach deliver real and tangible benefits for people by helping them to understand their personal budget, which can give them and their chosen provider the flexibility to co-design how their outcomes are best met. Other organisations can deliver elements of support and there is the opportunity to pool some or all the funding with friends, who may be supported by other providers, but have similar identified outcomes

Rachel Mason, parent and direct payment holder:

Those of us with direct payments are no-longer passive recipients of services commissioned for us, often on block contracts from a provider who won the tender on a procurement framework; we are purchasers and ‘customers’ of local responsive support from one or many different local and visible micro-provider services, whose reputation and transparent accountability, keeps their quality and standards high. This level of self-direction can at last be achieved without having to take on the responsibility of a direct payment. People can ask for an Individual Service Fund, where the provider holds and spends their budget in collaboration with the person


Posted in: Community Enterprise; Personalisation

One comment already, Leave your own

  1. Mark Pattison says:

    February 18, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Love this, Direct Payments are there to support and empower both the individual and their family. Thank you for this article it reaffirms what we do.

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