Putting Care Users In Control

Residents of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead who have care provided through social services are being encouraged to take advantage of a scheme that will give them greater freedom to choose who comes into their home to help them, and when. Direct payments gives people more power over the purse strings for their care, enabling them to arrange for their own care at times best suited to them and with services tailored to suit their way of life. From September 1 direct payments will be looked after by a dedicated borough team who will be available to all care users to discuss how the scheme could make their lives easier and give them control over the way their assessed packages of care can be delivered for their particular needs.

Although the scheme will be launched at the Older Persons’ Conference in Maidenhead on Monday September 4 it is open to anyone over the age of 18 who has been assessed by social services to receive care and who meets the requirements of the scheme.  As well as older people, it covers those with physical and/or learning disabilities, those suffering from a mental health condition and parents of disabled children or children in need who receive care.

Currently there are over 40 people who have care packages in the borough using direct payments, but the council is keen to encourage more to take advantage of the increased freedom and flexibility it brings.

Cllr Pam Proctor, lead member for adult services, said:  “The great thing about direct payments is that it gives people freedom to make choices about their care, with the option of employing a carer they know and feel comfortable with – instead of someone they don’t know – or purchasing care from a service provider of their choice.  They can make arrangements for their care to be they way they want it and at times that will suit them.”

Cllr Proctor said this was a way of increasing independence for residents who needed support to enable them to remain in their own homes.  “It puts people in the driving seat,” she said.  “They can make choices about their care and take more control of their own lives – and I’m pleased that we have had very positive responses from those already using the scheme.”

Direct payments means that once a person has been assessed by social services and their care package agreed, they are given the money to pay for their care.

The borough’s direct payments team – manager Eddie Johnson and advisor Dee Cooper – are available to make home visits to anyone interested in making the change and will provide ongoing support to ensure things go well and to help sort out any problems. Eddie and Dee will help with the interview process and setting up the easy-to-use system for people arranging their own care.

Eddie said:  “People using direct payments may want to employ their own carer or use the money to purchase care from a service provider of their choice.  It’s entirely up to them.  However, we will always be available for guidance and support so people feel secure they can call on us if they need help.”