The Council worked with disAbility Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, a user led disabled people’s organisation and people who use Direct Payments to change the Direct Payment Agreement, which was identified as a key action to address by the review.
Direct Payments are a sum of money allocated to someone as a Personal Budget to meet their eligible care and support needs. People are able to use them to directly employ a personal care assistant or pay directly for the services they need. This gives people more choice and control over their care and support and when and how it is delivered.
The review identified that the former Direct Payment Agreement was not clear enough, meaning some people were unaware of how their funds could be used and of their duties and responsibilities. The review also identified the need for greater monitoring of Direct Payment accounts, which will ultimately mean that unused funds should not build up and instead, can be recycled into the social care budget for the benefit of other people with eligible care needs.
The Agreement was produced in ‘easy read’ by CHAMPs, a team of 10 people with learning difficulties. A formal version of the agreement is still available for those who prefer it, however, Cornwall Council will as a default, use the Easy Read Agreement for everyone from now on.
Cornwall Council Portfolio Holder for Adults, Rob Rotchell said: “The new agreement is being sent to all current Direct Payment users and will be used for all new clients from now on. After a recent audit of the system identified that changes were needed we have worked with people who use the service to make sure that we make the necessary improvements. By working with the people who use the service we are confident that people will find the system much improved”.
Jane Johnson, Chief Executive of disAbility Cornwall said: “We were delighted to co-produce this new agreement and shaping it from the bottom up will ensure it works for the Direct Payment user as well as the Council. Many people have been confused about how to use their Direct Payments and as a result, have found themselves in difficult situations, whereas we hope they will now have the clarity they need to use them confidently and we hope more people will choose to use them as a result”.
The review also identified the need for a revised Direct Payment Policy, so that people will clearly understand how Direct Payments can be used to meet their needs and improve their choice, control and independence.
This policy will also be developed in partnership with disAbility Cornwall and other voluntary sector organisations, and with people who currently have care and support needs. A draft policy will be ready by September 2019 with further opportunities for people to have their say at six consultation workshops around the County.
This review supports Cornwall Council’s priority to protect and improve the lives of vulnerable adults in Cornwall.