The Mental Health Foundation has launched a Department of Health-funded project to uncover why people with dementia and their carers are not opting for direct payments and personal budgets.
The charity is seeking pilot areas to take part in its Dementia Choices scheme to examine ways in which self-directed support can be promoted, with adequate safeguards, for the approximately 580,000 people in England with dementia.
Currently, local authorities have a duty to offer a direct payment to people with dementia who possess capacity. Under regulations due to come into force in October, under the Health and Social Care Act 2008, third parties can be appointed to manage direct payments on behalf of people who lack capacity.
Adult protection concerns
However, adult protection charities have raised serious concerns over provisions allowing people managing a direct payment on behalf of a close relative or a friend they had previously cared for to hire personal assistants for them without seeking a Criminal Records Bureau check.
MHF head of development Toby Williamson said he shared these concerns, though added that the DH was exploring other ways to put safeguards in place for people who lack capacity.
He said the project would also look at how people with dementia who possessed capacity could be adequately safeguarded, suggesting that safety concerns were preventing some care managers from promoting direct payments for the client group.
Diagnosis too late
Williamson added that historically many people with dementia had been diagnosed too late, after their condition had deteriorated, to take advantage of direct payments.
He added: “There’s been a significant increase in the number of people being diagnosed in the earliest stages but there’s been a lag [in terms of take-up of direct payments].”
Organisations interested in becoming involved as a pilot site for the project have until 7 September to express an interest.