For Service Users
In England, the healthcare system depends on a state-funded service called the National Health Care, or NHS that guarantees free healthcare to all. This service was enacted in 1948 and has been running successfully ever since. People living in England don’t have to pay for most or at least fundamental healthcare services. After the economic downfall in 2008, the UK government started collecting lesser tax money, which meant that its expenditure on all public services would be reduced too. Despite this, the government’s budget for the NHS had still risen after 2008, though at a slower rate. Now, because of the immense pressure on the public healthcare system, hospitals are struggling to meet quality expectations for their services. This is why the current healthcare system in the UK focuses on “expanding choices” for patients by working on different methods of providing health services
The NHS has a multitude of policies that grant patients the right to choose the kind of healthcare they wish to get. “Personalisation” is the underlying idea behind these policies. Patients need different kinds of healthcare providers depending on their conditions and ability. Essentially, healthcare is not a “one-size-fits-all” situation. Direct Payment is a method of providing flexible and customizable healthcare to patients.
What does Direct Payment Mean?
To sum up: if a patient’s local council thinks that they are eligible for any form of social care, they may request them to choose a plan for support that fits their needs. If the patient chooses a direct payment method of getting social help from their local council, they will receive payments directly from the council, based on their personal budget. Then, the patient can decide how and when to spend the money they have gotten. Patients can also choose to passively receive statutory healthcare services in addition to direct payments.
Although direct payments can be used for virtually all kinds of social services, we will focus on their use in healthcare services, to be specific.
What are Personal Budgets?
Once a person is identified as a suitable candidate for any form of social care, their local council will review their case and decide the amount of money they need in order to meet their requirements. The amount of money the local authorities pay towards a person’s social care is known as a personal budget. The budget depends on the following factors:
The kind of care a patient needs
The amount a patient can afford to spend on healthcare
How much social care will cost for a patient
Personal budgets can also be made for carers - people who help take care of disabled or dependent individuals. People who provide such care can get an assessment made about how their lives can be made easier. This assessment is generally made by adult social services at local councils.
Are You Eligible for Direct Payments?
Direct payments are normally available to people who have certain difficult circumstances or needs. If you think you need direct payments to support yourself, you may contact the NHS through their official website if you fall into any of the below-mentioned categories:
You have been assessed as needing special assistance under the health and personal social services legislation
You are over 16 years of age and are living with a disability
You are over 16 years of age and are a carer for someone else (this category also includes parents of disables children)
You are an older person
If you have been denied direct payments by your local council in the past, but you feel that your circumstances have now changed, you may contact your local trust and request them to review your circumstances.
What Direct Payments cannot be used for?
Although recipients have a lot of freedom to choose what all they can do with direct payments, they must not use the money for the following purposes:
Paying for permanent residence. Direct payments may be used to pay for temporary accommodation, but usually, they cannot be used to pay for permanent housing unless the recipient of the payments gets approval from their local authorities for this.
Hiring a close family member, such as a civil partner, or spouse to take care of you. This is because a carer who is emotionally attached to his or her subject may have a mental breakdown as a result of his or her work. However, if someone feels that hiring a close relative is the best for their circumstances, their local trust may make an exception for the use of direct payments in such a case.
What to do before you start
Before you start, you must go over the following details with your legal counsel, and your bank:
Who is able to manage your direct payments in case you are not able to. Someone can handle direct payments on your behalf if you consent to this option.
Discuss with your local trust what changes can be made to your direct payment plan in the years to come.
We would recommend that you set a meeting with your bank to explain why you are getting direct payments because some banks do not allow direct payments. Having a separate bank account for direct payments is better.
You should ask your local council how direct payments can be used during emergency situations
The Benefits of Direct Payments
Direct payments were introduced in the UK under the 1996 legislation. Within the healthcare system, they have shown to increase patient satisfaction, improve continuity of healthcare services, and improve the quality of service provided to patients. Today, direct payments are a central feature of the healthcare policy in England. Elderly, disabled or terminally ill individuals often use direct payments. By choosing their own caregivers, these individuals become service commissioners, rather than passive recipients of healthcare services.
Direct payments also make the healthcare industry more competitive by giving buyers free choice. The process makes for a more genuine healthcare system because there is competition between service providers over quality.
Overall, direct payments have numerous benefits. They improve service quality and make the social services sector more competitive. When people use direct payment plans, they feel more satisfied with the services they receive. Direct payments are available to virtually anyone who is over 16 and is facing stressful or difficult circumstances. Caregivers are also good candidates for receiving direct payments as they have to spend a lot of time and energy to take care of someone else. This shows the extent to which direct payments improve society’s welfare. At the Chosen Care Group, we assist people who depend on direct payments by helping them select a flexible plan with a trustworthy caregiver.