It's not rocket's self-directed support

Martin Walker, TLAP's policy lead asks us to get involved in conversations about improving self-directed support with the help of some short films.

For those of you who are space aficionados, you’ll know there have been momentous developments in the SpaceX Starship programme. Building on the success of being able to land and reuse their current rocket the Falcon and its boosters, they are now able to do this with the Starship craft they hope will take people to Mars one day.

Rocket science is complicated, very difficult, very risky and very expensive. And Elon Musk, the man behind SpaceX talks about it openly - the successes, the failures, the hard stuff and the joys. What’s that got to do with direct payments? Well, for something that is nowhere near as difficult as landing a spaceship safely, we do seem to be making things very hard for ourselves.

We wondered whether, like Elon, getting people to talk about some of the difficulties would help us all to understand how to make progress. So we’ve made four short films to help start conversations. We invite and encourage you to get involved.

For something that is nowhere near as difficult as landing a spaceship safely, we do seem to be making things very hard for ourselves

Direct payments: working or not working?

Recently we published a report Direct Payments: working or not working? - a result of bringing together people and organisations to help government with COVID-19 guidance that would be useful to direct payment recipients, organisations supporting them, councils and clinical commissioning groups. We kept coming back to the key issues: that the Care Act is clear on how direct payments should work; and that many people involved in making them work are frustrated that they can’t get them to for people in the way they want them to.

Personal budgets and individual service funds

This is the starting point for other forms of self-directed support: personal budgets in the form of Individual Service Funds and as ‘notional budgets’ where people benefit from the services commissioned by Local Authorities. It seems even more difficult to get to a place where most people feel in control of their support with these other options.

Conversations about self-directed support online

We thought we’d try to get some people to talk about their experiences, frustrations and ways they’ve found through to making direct payments work.

That’s been hard. People didn’t want to talk. Rather they didn’t feel free to say what they thought. Some brave souls have helped us make four short films from their conversations. We think they put their finger on some of the key issues that will help people trying to make self-directed support work for all to make progress and bring to life the Care Act

We want to hear what more people think. What are your frustrations about this? Are they similar to those in the films? Have you found other ways to make progress? Can you share your own experience?

Watch all the conversations on self-directed support films in the series here….

Please join us on the hashtag #SDSconversations and watch the films or comment below.


Posted on by Les Scaife

If we look at support (whatever it's form) as an investment rather than a benefit, we may be able to make some progress. We need to look at the needs first, without cost in mind.
Then we should be looking at how those needs can be delivered, what can the family do ? what can the LA do ? what can the voluntary sector do. This will need a huge structural change, but could deliver what we are looking for .
LA's are so short of funds that are looking more how to claw back money from Direct Payments. I have witnessed a halving of the funds held in reserve for holiday pay and redundancy. 5.6 weeks holiday pay is the norm, but we can now only have 4 weeks money in the account. So it is now crucial that we look at other ways of approaching the change that is vitally needed.

Posted on by Martin Walker

Thanks Les...exactly what we've been picking point to the huge structural change needed...we also think this needs to be paired with cultural change...there's a film in the series about this, watch this space.

Posted on by Val J Rowley

The ethos of Direct Payments has completely gone out of the door. It seems that there is No More Choice and Control. It is absolutely ridiculous what LA’s are getting away with and should look at other ways of saving money. Eg: reducing staff. No more rises in salaries. We haven’t had a rise in years and they wouldn’t do the job of looking after someone with a Learning Disability coupled with Autism 24/7 days per week x 52 weeks of the year. They should be ashamed of themselves and challenged on the unlawful tactics they use!

Posted on by Martin Walker

Thank you for your comment Val. So much to do to address these issues.

Posted on by Janet Welch

It was good to hear a handful of positive people and comments around letting go and flexibility. These are clearly huge barriers in some, may be many local authorities. Unfortunately in my area, and I am fortunate enough to sit in the corner of three counties, there is nothing to be flexible about. There are insufficient Carers, and a severe lack of suitable activities so flexibility on using a personal budget/direct payment is a non starter. I am also extremely concerned that the legal and financial support around direct payments and employment is just not proactive enough and leaves the user extremely vulnerable. I am not convinced the legally required insurance is a good enough safety net when it comes to employment. Having conversations around flexibility is good but the fundamentally broken care system effectively means that budget constraints are not the only effective means of a lack of permission!

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