We recently met with Amanda Hill (SNIPS service manager) and Liz Roe (Service Manager Strategy and Partnership) to discuss issues raised by parents in relation to Direct Payments. Here’s a summary:
Converting services into Direct Payments
Families have a right to receive Direct Payment instead of a social care service which they have been assessed as needing. The word “assessed” is important here; a service which is not based on an assessment (e.g. a SNIPS service accessed via a parent application form) does not qualify. Families who are accessing such a service must get Family CAF completed before they can convert the service into a Direct Payment.
Delays in setting up Direct Payments
Amanda said that delays usually occurred when families had trouble recruiting a Personal Assistant. For families who had already found a suitable person, the Direct Payment should take no longer than 6-8 weeks to set up. Parents also reported delays caused by staff filling in the wrong forms, or not passing on important information.
When can a request for Direct Payments be turned down?
Such a request can only be turned down if the Direct Payment would not meet the family’s assessed needs; for example, if the family was in a crisis situation and it would take too long to set up a Direct Payment. However, in such a situation it might be possible to agree an interim solution, such as using a PA from an agency while a long-term PA was being recruited.
Do families HAVE to accept a Direct Payment instead of a service?
No, Direct Payments are voluntary. Even if a service closes, users MUST be offered alternative services, not just Direct Payments.
Families in receipt of Direct Payments should be aware that Sheffield City Council’s Audit Team is clawing back unspent money on a monthly basis. Where families want to accrue Direct Payments to use at a later date (e.g. during school holidays), this must be clearly recorded in the care plan to avoid a claw-back.
Some families have received letters from the Council which address their disabled child as if they were an adult who might have to make a contribution towards their social care services. This is incorrect, as children’s social care services are not means-tested.