Much more needs to be done to promote the
uptake of direct payments, particularly among people with mental
health problems, according to Hugh Henry, Scotland’s deputy
minister for community care.
He was speaking out after the publication of
the Scottish executive’s Direct What? – a study of direct
payments uptake by those using mental health services. The
researchers found that only two people with mental health problems
had taken up direct payments since its introduction in 1996 in
Henry said: “Earlier research found few if any
disadvantages to direct payments. It can benefit not only
recipients but also families and social work departments.”
The latest research also found that awareness
of how direct payments work was low among professionals and its
uptake was poor among all service users in spite of the executive
allocating £530,000 last April to Direct Payments Scotland, a
two-year project aimed at helping increase awareness.
Only 16 out of the 32 local authorities had
operational direct payments schemes with only 10 councils planning
to include people with mental health problems. In total, there are
only 213 recipients of direct payments in Scotland.
The research identified ways to support people
with mental health problems or dementia with direct payments.
These include ensuring clarity about
eligibility, making plans when people become too ill to manage,
making procedures easy to understand and using organisations who
understand mental health problems to support applicants.
Henry said: “We firmly believe that direct
payments have potential which can be unlocked if they can be made
available to more people and publicised more widely.”
– Direct What? is at www.scotland.gov.uk/cru/kd01/maroon/asod-00.asp