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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 2024 (FS17)

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Money that is allocated for your social care support that is paid directly to you is called 'direct payments'. You can use this money to pay for support that you choose to meet your needs. It is the main way to receive all or part of a personal budget if you want to have direct control of the money available to support you.

If you choose 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:

  • equipment to help keep you independent
  • non-traditional services that meet your needs
  • employing a personal assistant
  • paying a home care company
  • short breaks in a residential care home

Employing personal assistants

Some people use direct payments to employ personal assistants. Personal assistants can help you with :

  • personal care (washing and dressing)
  • household tasks (cleaning and tidying)
  • activities outside your home (taking you to appointments and events)

Employing a personal assistant gives many people the greatest possible choice and control over their lives. You get to choose who helps you, when they help, and how they will provide care and support. Employing a personal assistant also means that your care and support can be 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 Independent Lives, an organisation that supports people who employ personal assistants. They can help with finding the right staff, employment contracts, payments and more. Contact Independent Lives for more information:

Independent Lives

Phone: 01903 219 482 (option 3)

Email: advice@independentlives.org

Using direct payments to pay a home care company

If you are going to be having care at home, it is easy to use direct payments to buy this directly from the company that will be providing it.

You can choose which company will provide your care and will have more control over when and how you use the hours available to you. You do not have to have a set pattern of care each week.

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. You can also use the East Sussex 1Space website to find services for you.

Paying a care home for respite or a short break

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 from your normal arrangements. Your social care worker will help you find a place that suits you. 

If you 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. 

If you feel that you need a break, you can contact your chosen care home 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 at short notice (usually 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 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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