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Respite - Direct Payments - Short Breaks

(15 Posts)
sweetteamum Fri 12-Dec-14 21:24:05

Can anyone help explain how these work?

I'm currently in talks with our LA Children's Disability Service in St Helens and would like your experiences.

fairgame Fri 12-Dec-14 21:55:11

I'm not in St Helens but i have been getting direct payments for 2 years.

Avoid avoid avoid.

Direct payments are an absolute ball ache.
You have to find the carer yourself (LA might help you advertise the job), do all the interviews yourself, sort out their tax and national insurance payments and pay their wages. You have to organise a person to sort out the payroll for your carer and pay for them and also make sure you have employer liability insurance. The LA sort out the CRB/DBS check. The LA will give you all of the money to cover this, although mine have a habit of missing payments and there have been times when i've had to pay my carer out of my own money and wait for the LA to pay me back.
I also had to open up a seperate bank account and have to send the LA copies of each monthly bank statement which they then lose and request again 6 months later.
You have to sign an employment contract and sort out the carer's working hours. You have to deal with any problems such as carer not turning up or ringing in sick.
It's caused me nothing but hassle. Dealing with the direct payments team at my LA is absolutely horrific. They don't follow up on anything, they never call me back. They have just cancelled my direct payment without even telling me! I put the payments on hold back in august because i had to sack my carer and i told them i would look for a new carer after christmas as DS has just started a new school. They have just send me a letter telling me they are cancelled and can they have all the money back in the DP account.

A sessional worker might be a lot easier. They are paid directly by the LA and sent to do set hours each week. The only downside is that they are not as flexible as direct payments. You can get a direct payment carer to work when you want and change the times each week which is good for holidays or special events but a sessional worker might only be able to do certain hours each week.

My LA are spectacularly incompetent (regularly in the news because of failing children's services) so it might just be that i'm unlucky and your LA actually know how to run a service properly.

sweetteamum Fri 12-Dec-14 22:36:02

Thanks for being so honest. I'm in a situation at present where I wouldn't be able to keep on top of all that. So maybe it would be best for them to supply someone - I'll have to find out what it's called in our authority.

vjg13 Sat 13-Dec-14 18:23:20

Not St Helens either, I have been getting DPs for about 8 years and find it ok. My LA are generally shit but apart from one or two cocks ups with late/incorrect payments it has usually been alright. I think they are about to try and take it away here so would grab it if I were you!

vjg13 Sat 13-Dec-14 18:27:06

You need need a separate account, I do a time sheet and the LA supply a payslip and fill in the tax slip which I just need to post. Have to submit bank statements, receipts and accounts every six months or so. It does involve some effort but works for us.

sweetteamum Sat 13-Dec-14 23:28:38

I do feel that it's not the right time for direct payments at the moment.

However, I will see what other avenues we could go down.

chocolatebrain Sun 14-Dec-14 00:53:19

We get short breaks instead of DPs, the DP assessment and admin process wasn't worth the effort for us. For short breaks we simply had to visit our SS offices with a DLA letter and they either allocate you a set number of hours in a playscheme (within your LA) or they pay you a sum based on those hours instead (individual budget). Then you just book them into the playscheme, or if you're using individual budget, you can just spend them on activities like horse riding, 1:1 lessons or swimming etc (can choose anything, anywhere you like). So no banking or tax details. I have to retain receipts for our individual budget but they only do spot checks and we've not been picked so never actually had to submit them. But you can't use the individual budgets for staff though, just the activity - so no good if you need it for respite for actually having time away from your child (but suits us because DS is fussy and would prefer to be with us anyway).

sweetteamum Sun 14-Dec-14 08:30:57

That definitely sounds more the kind of thing that would suit us best. Maybe direct payments are just not for us.

Thanks for the responses. And I wish our LA was as straightforward as yours, re: taking the dla letter in fwink

JsOtherHalf Mon 15-Dec-14 19:13:16

In this area you can often ask to employ a care agency. They provide the staff, training, holiday cover, etc. They then invoice you and you pay them from the direct payment account.
Unfortunately, at the moment, very few agencies have any capacity.

stillstandingatthebusstop Mon 15-Dec-14 20:46:17

Short breaks are being cut where I live.hmm
If you got direct payments maybe they would be less likely to be cut. I don't really know how the DP system works though.

sweetteamum Wed 17-Dec-14 10:53:52

To be honest. Because we've got no one advising us what we can be asking for I've really got no idea what they could provide. It's just so much more hassle than I could of imagined.

We get no time together, no time with each child individually, dd wants to live at her asd school because she's so fed up of it all and we don't have any help from anyone.

Maybe it'd be easier to just forget about respite and find a way to cope. I really feel it could Impact us as a family and we're desperately trying to stay together.

stillstandingatthebusstop Wed 17-Dec-14 18:53:19

Oh dear sweet. I feel for you. thanks

Is your child under CAMHS or a Paediatrician? Could you ask for help through them? Sounds like you could do with a social worker and then you might be able to get respite from the social care budget. But I can't remember how you get a social worker (we used to have one). Anyone?

fairgame Wed 17-Dec-14 19:01:40

Is there anyone from a local charity or support group that could help you navigate the respite system. Or maybe a family support worker at you daughter's school?
I've been left to try and find a way to cope and it's tough. I've only got one child so i can't imagine how hard it is when you are trying to juggle more children.

Frusso Wed 17-Dec-14 20:11:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sweetteamum Sat 20-Dec-14 11:24:04

Thanks for your replies. I really appreciate the time taken.

Tbh, I'm now under the conclusion direct payments are not for us. However, I do think that short breaks or respite is an option to pursue.

I will check the local disability groups I'm on, for advice and also check with a few charities if they can help or recommend a way forward.

My daughter is at an indi ss and they initially referred us. maybe I need a follow up conversation with them.

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