As part of our Caring Communities of Change project, All Wales Forum have been looking into exploring models of support that involve Direct Payments, particularly the option that families have to be able to pool their Direct Payment budgets so they can go further and achieve shared outcomes with other individuals and families.
Useful background information on Direct Payments
We have collated useful information that other partner organisations and networks have produced that may be of use to families of loved ones with learning disabilities.
What is Direct Payment Pooling? – Social Care Wales
A guide to pooling direct payments – Flintshire Local Authority
Your rights when it comes to pooling your direct payments – Disability Rights UK
What have we found so far?
There have been numerous conversations around this subject since the start of the project, some of the critical things we have found are –
- Many families and professionals needed additional background information on the potential uses of direct payments before exploring the idea of pooling as there was a lack of awareness of direct payments in general and a preconceived idea that they can only be used for personal assistants (PA’s)
- The COVID pandemic and subsequent cost of living crisis has limited families and professionals’ ability to commit resources to this idea
- Some areas have fully embraced the flexibility and opportunities that come can come from direct payments – in some cases, due to the lack of regular services due to COVID – and these areas have produced insightful information and learning from these experiences
- The process of pooling budgets is complicated for practical reasons, such as:
- Lack of specific examples
Ideas that we are collaborating on to move forward
Through these conversations, we have naturally co-produced working groups that are looking to pool their payments to achieve specific shared goals. As part of developing continued shared knowledge and learning opportunities, we want to continue to develop these ideas to ensure there is examples that other families within the network can use as a catalyst to conversations of their own around pooling their budgets.
These examples are –
- Dream House Swansea – a group of family carers want to explore how they can pool their payments to access activities that allow their loved ones to gain independent living skills through shared activities. The ultimate goal is to have a bespoke home where they can all live as friends, truly a Dream Home.
- Alternative to traditional day services in Caerphilly – a group of families in Caerphilly are looking to pool their payments to create alternatives to traditional services. The group is in the process of setting up as a co-operative that will allow them to make shared decisions and identify shared outcomes to work towards
- Mencap Mon – families from Anglesey are looking to pool their payments as they want to make better use of their budgets. Living rurally, they have to travel further to get to activities and opportunities, so they want to see how they could make their budgets go further by pooling.
We will keep the network to to date with progress on these ideas and the learning from them through our digital forum and regular stakeholder events. To join these meeting, please visit our events page on our website.
If you have an idea you’d like to explore, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 02920 811120.
The AWF Team
Please find below some more information regarding Direct Payments and Pooling examples.
What are Direct Payments?
Direct Payments are payments made by local authorities to individuals who require social care services, so that they can choose and buy their own support. This gives people more control over their own lives and enables them to tailor the support they receive to their individual needs.
How do Direct Payments work in Wales?
In Wales, Direct Payments are administered by local authorities. The Welsh Government provides guidance and regulations on how they should be implemented.
To be eligible for Direct Payments, you must first have an assessment of your care needs by your local authority. If it is determined that you require social care services, you may be offered Direct Payments as an alternative to traditional care services.
If you choose to receive Direct Payments, you will be given a budget by your local authority. You can then use this budget to purchase your own care and support services. This means that you can choose who provides your care and when they provide it, giving you greater flexibility and control.
How to apply for Direct Payments in Wales
To apply for Direct Payments in Wales, you should contact your local authority’s social services department. They will arrange an assessment of your care needs and discuss the options available to you.
If you are eligible for Direct Payments, your local authority will provide you with information on how to manage your budget and purchase your own care and support services.
Direct Payments can provide greater flexibility and control over the care and support services you receive. If you are interested in finding out more about Direct Payments in Wales, contact your local authority’s social services department for more information.
Direct Payment Pooling
Direct Payment pooling is a way for people to pool their Direct Payment budgets together to purchase care and support services collectively. This can be particularly useful for people who require a higher level of support or those who live in more rural areas where it may be more difficult to find suitable care providers.
Direct Payment pooling can also help to reduce the administrative burden of managing individual Direct Payment budgets. By pooling budgets together, it is often easier to manage payments, contracts and invoicing for care providers.
In Wales, the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 places a duty on local authorities to promote the use of Direct Payment pooling. If you are interested in Direct Payment pooling, you should discuss this with your local authority’s social services department to find out more about how it works and if it is suitable for your needs.
Some examples of Pooling:
- “Our Community Cares”: This is a project in Lincolnshire, UK, where people with learning disabilities have come together to pool their Direct Payments to create a shared budget. The budget is used to employ support workers who provide care and support services to the group.
- “Plymouth People First”: This is a self-advocacy group in Plymouth, UK, which has set up a Direct Payment pooling scheme. The scheme enables members of the group to pool their Direct Payment budgets to purchase support services together, giving them greater control and flexibility over the support they receive.
- “Speaking Up”: This is a charity in Oxfordshire, UK, which supports people with learning disabilities to pool their Direct Payments. The charity provides advice and support to help people manage their budgets, find suitable care providers and negotiate contracts.
- “Mirus”: Mirus is a charity that supports people with learning disabilities in Wales. The charity has set up a Direct Payment pooling scheme called “Shared Lives”, which enables people to pool their Direct Payment budgets to purchase support services together. The scheme has been successful in providing more flexible and person-centred support to participants.
- “Pembrokeshire People First”: Pembrokeshire People First is a self-advocacy group in Wales that has set up a Direct Payment pooling scheme. The scheme enables members of the group to pool their Direct Payment budgets to purchase support services together, giving them greater control and choice over the support they receive.
- “Cartrefi Cymru”: Cartrefi Cymru is a Welsh social care provider that supports people with learning disabilities. The organisation has implemented a Direct Payment pooling scheme to enable people to combine their budgets and purchase support services together. The scheme has been successful in providing more flexible and personalised support to participants.