Using a Direct Payment to buy services from a care agency or other provider

Choosing an agency or service

You may decide that you want to buy some (or all) of the services you need from a care agency or other provider.  If you choose this option any staff who work for you will be employed by the agency and the agency is responsible for managing the staff and will pay their wages. You will still maintain choice and control as you will make all arrangements directly with the agency, stating how, when and where your support is provided.

You can choose which agency or provider to use, if you need help with your personal care the service MUST be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). You will need to check that it can do exactly what you want and that it has appropriate insurance and safety arrangements. The questions you may want to ask any potential agency or provider may include:

• If it is registered with the Care Quality Commission or any other organisations (ask for registration number and copies of any reports or inspections)
• What insurance policies it has (ask to see a copy)
• If staff are Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked
• How staff are managed and how often you will be visited to check that you are happy with the service being provided
• If all staff are directly employed by the agency
• What their complaints procedure is and how they would deal with any complaints you may have about their service
• How they arrange for staff cover during holidays or sickness absence and if this will be discussed with you when necessary
• What training is provided for staff and what qualifications and experience their care staff are required to have
• If they would conduct a risk assessment for you
• How much it would cost to use their service to meet your needs (are there additional costs such as mileage or bank holiday charges)

Service Costs

When making arrangements with your chosen agency/service provider you should make sure that you are aware of all costs that will be charged to you before entering into a contract with them. You should ask for all of your agreed arrangements and a breakdown of their complete costs to be provided to you in writing. 
Sometimes an agency may charge more for the care services you need than you can afford to pay from your Direct Payments. In this case you would need to ‘top up’ your direct payments from your own personal funds - to meet the costs. We would recommend in this instance you seek advice from your support broker or social worker.

Problems with a service or its staff

The purpose of Direct Payments is to give you control over who provides your support, when and how. If you are unhappy with agency care staff you should speak to the agency, if you are not happy with the agency itself you will be able to change to a different provider.

For information about local services please use the Adult Care and Health Directory

Last Updated: 8 March 2020