The contract for the Direct Payment Support Service is coming to an end in June 2023 and given the complexity of the service, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (LBRuT) and Wandsworth Borough (WBC) Councils need to allow 18-24 months for the procurement process. Before that process commences, the Councils wanted to establish service user views on current provision, and on what support service users require to help them manage their direct payment effectively to inform the development of the specification and shape future provision.
There are over a thousand service users across Richmond and Wandsworth in receipt of a Direct Payment. We collected responses from 43 users, 27 from Richmond (about 6.5% of the Richmond total). We're very grateful to RUILS (the current provider for Richmond) and Richmond Council for their help in reaching these people.
Healthwatch Richmond and Healthwatch Wandsworth were asked to provide independent expert support with obtaining in-depth qualitative user feedback from service users about their experiences of the Direct Payment Support Service and their needs from the service in future under the new contract. The project aimed to:
better understand the experiences of people who use, or choose not to use DP Support
understand what people would like to see stay the same and what they would want to see change regarding the support available for managing Direct Payments.
Key Findings and Recommendations
Feedback suggested that there was a general lack of understanding of what support was available and how funds could be spent. Respondents called for more clarity on this matter.
Respondents reported what they perceived as a lack of flexibility over what support is available and what they can spend their money on. Some felt they needed more support, or more options for what they could use their payments on, and others were just unaware that there could be more support.
Some people expressed a desire for, and others would appear to benefit from, more clarity and accessibility of information about their payments and services, perhaps via an online platform for those who are digitally literate.
- Service users predominantly used their Direct Payments for accessing care support, either by employing personal assistants/carers directly or through a care agency. In contrast, only a few people used the service for other purposes, such as transport, social opportunities, equipment to support independence or respite. Some people felt that their lack of ability to pay for activities limited their ability to benefit from their Direct Payment.