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Paying for services with direct payments


This factsheet explains the different ways you can use direct payments to pay for care and support.

April 2023 (FS17)

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Direct payments are when the money allocated for your support is paid direct to you, so that you can pay for the support you choose to meet your needs. It is the main way to receive all or part of a personal budget, where you want to have direct control of the money available to support you.

If you chose to use direct payments we will pay you the same amount of money we would pay if we were arranging the care and support for you.

You can use direct payments to buy anything that meets your eligible needs and has been agreed in your support plan.  This might include items of equipment to help keep you independent or non-traditional services that meet your needs.  Most people use their direct payment to employ a personal assistant, pay a home care company or for short breaks in a residential home.

Employing personal assistants

Some people use direct payments to employ their own staff to provide their care and support, these people are usually called personal assistants. Personal assistants can help you with parts of your support plan, such as:

  • personal care (for example, washing and dressing)
  • household tasks (cleaning and tidying), and;
  • activities outside your home (such as taking you to appointments and events).

For many people, employing a personal assistant gives them the greatest possible choice and control over their lives. You get to choose who helps you, when they help, and how they will provide your care and support. Employing a personal assistant also means that your care and support can be very flexible and fit with your day-to-day needs.

Employing staff might sound complicated, but there is lots of help available. We can put you in touch with two organisations that are able to provide support to people who employ personal assistants.  These are PeoplePlus and Independent Lives.

They can help with everything from finding the right staff, contracts of employment, to making sure that people get the right pay each month. Contact PeoplePlus or Independent Lives for more information:


Phone: 01323 414 674.

Email: ilseastsussex@peopleplus.co.uk

Independent Lives

Phone: 01903 219 482 (option 3)

Email: advice@independentlives.org

Using direct payments to pay a home care company

If you and your social care worker have agreed the best way to meet your needs is to have support provided at home, then it is simple and straightforward to use direct payments just to buy home care. It means you can work directly with the home care company to get the support that is right for you. 

There are many companies and voluntary organisations that provide home care, respite care or day care. Using direct payments to buy these services means you get to choose which company will provide you with care and support. You also have more control over when and how you use the hours available to you – rather than just having a set pattern of care each week.

When you use direct payments we still want to be sure that you are using a provider who offers a good standard of care. Your care manager can tell you about the range of providers in your area, or you can use websites such as East Sussex 1Space or Support with Confidence directory to find the right service for you.

Support with Confidence

Support with Confidence is an accreditation scheme which makes sure all members are committed to the highest level of quality, safety and training.

It is a directory of vetted and approved care and service providers including personal care, meal providers, gardening, home improvement, transport needs and financial advice. See: Support with Confidence directory or call 01323 463 440 for details of services in your area.  

Paying a care home for respite or a short break

If your social care needs assessment finds that short breaks could meet your care and support needs, you can use direct payments to buy short stays in residential care homes. This means you can arrange the short breaks as and when you need them. This might be to give you and your carer a break or rest from your normal arrangements. Your social care worker will help you find a home that suits you. 

If you choose to use direct payments to buy short breaks we will send you a form called an ‘Individual service agreement’. You must sign and return this form to say that you will use the money in the right way.   

You can choose services that cost the same as your direct payment plus your own contribution, or you can choose a more expensive service and pay extra towards this yourself. 

When you feel that you need a break you can contact the home you have chosen and book a stay.  It is important to agree how much the break will cost and make sure you are clear about any terms and conditions that apply.  For example, most residential care homes will still charge you for your stay if you cancel your booking at short notice (which usually means within 24 hours). 

You will be responsible for paying for your stay. When you have paid you should ask the care home to give you a receipt so that you can keep a record of the payment. 

You can use your direct payment account to make the payment. Once you have done this you just need to call or email the direct payments monitoring team who will check your account. If another respite payment is available this will be made into the direct payment account.

Making a complaint

If you want to make a complaint about Adult Social Care, you might want to use an independent advocate to help you understand the complaints process and put your views across effectively.

For more information about how to make a complaint, please read our leaflet: How to make a complaint or give feedback.

More information

See further leaflets and factsheets

Contact us to get copies of this factsheet sent to you, or any of the other leaflets or factsheets mentioned.

Email: Health and Social Care Connect
Phone: 0345 60 80 191
Minicom : 18001 0345 60 80 191

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