What are the pros and cons of Direct Payments for personal care?

My husband in his 60s has dementia and Parkinson’s and has just been assessed for SDS in Edinburgh, with three elements being proposed - personal care for him, day services for him, and respite care. I have opted for Direct Payments in lieu of day services and respite, but I have to decide whether to take Direct Payments for the personal care element and organise carers myself, or ask Health and Social Care to provide carers. I am completely new to all of this and am looking for advice/other people’s experience. My instinct is to opt for DPs for the whole package, so that we can control/organise everything ourselves, but are there disadvantages to being in charge of organising his personal carers directly? Are they easily sourced? Are they more expensive? My husband needs assistance in the mornings with washing, dressing etc but does not need a personal assistant. Any insights into this topic would be most welcome, thank you.

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If you would like to email me I can speak from my experiences I have been receiving DP for 22years on behalf of my daughter. I got experience employing an agency and also our own support staff by advertising.
We have option 1 SDS
My email is: support_work@hotmail.com

Hi Claire

A direct payment certainly gives you more choice and control over your husband’s care needs. It needn’t be daunting as there is help out there to support those who opt for a DP. You get to decide what the PA does and when this gets done.
Finding a good, reliable PA can be a challenge but it is a growing workforce and again you can get help with this, your social worker should be able to suggest options for you.
Your local authority will provide the funding for you to employ your own carer or carers, you can add to this for the right person if you want to. The current minimum hourly rate for a PA is £10.90 (living wage). Social services should explain all of this to you. Using an organisation to provide you with care workers is often more expensive and you might have less control over how and when they work.
I wouldn’t begin to advise you on what you should do, it should be your choice of what suits the needs of you and your husband best, but try to ensure you have all of the facts to hand before making a decision.
Employing your own PA brings with it the responsibility of being an employer but again you can get help with this.

Always remember if you feel that whatever your do choose doesn’t work the way you thought it would you have the right to change your mind at any time.

Hope this helps.


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Hi Claire, the availability of carers/PAs can vary quite a bit between different areas and is influenced by factors such as urban vs rural location. The capacity of care/respite providers in your area is also something that you need to consider.

If you are not already in touch with any local support organisations, I would suggest you contact the Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living who will be able to give you plenty advice and information about SDS options. They also offer a payroll service that can help you manage direct payments: https://www.lothiancil.org.uk/

You could also contact Vocal, who support unpaid carers in Edinburgh: Support for carers in Edinburgh & Midlothian - VOCAL

Finally, Dundee Carers Centre have some useful e-learning modules around SDS options and using direct payments (some of the info is specific to Dundee and Angus but most of it is general): Understanding Self-directed Support - Direct Payments

Hope this helps you in your decision-making.


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