Direct Payments are a different way by which local authorities and the NHS can discharge their community care responsibilities. Government has tried to empower people to be able to choose their own care and to make it as flexible as they need it but also to save costs as well.
You do not have to be specifically assessed for Direct Payments. The direct payment scheme should be an integral part of the care needs assessment and care planning process and such payments are not available unless and until the appropriate assessment has been undertaken.
Direct Payments must be calculated on the basis of the “reasonable cost of securing the provision of the service concerned”. This should include the reasonable associated costs, including the cost of training a personal assistant, or managing your direct payment budget. Concern has been expressed however about the failure of some local authorities to pay for these important items.
The recipient of the direct payment must ensure that it is spent on services to meet the assessed needs. Monitoring arrangements by the local authority should be consistent and promote and increase a person’s choice and independence.
The regulations provide authorities with the power to seek repayment of direct payments if they are satisfied that it has not been used to secure the provision of the service to which it relates. The Guidance provides that “Councils should bear in mind that repayment should be aimed at recovering money which has been diverted from the purpose for which it was intended, or where the services have been obtained from someone who is ineligible to provide them, or which has simply not been spent at all. It should not be used to penalise honest mistakes, nor should repayment be sought where the individual has been the victim of fraud.
The NHS can now also provide direct payments to people who have a need for a health care package such as continuing healthcare and who do not want their care provided in a nursing home but wishes to remain in their own home and have choice and independence in where their care comes from.
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