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About direct payments

If you receive direct payments you can choose who provides your care, and how and when you receive it.

Direct payments can be used to pay for services that meet your needs. This may be personal care in your home, help to take part in activities or to help you to attend clubs or groups.

You could choose to pay a friend or family member, or a company (we usually call these providers). This could mean that you have the same person caring for your needs all of the time.

We will help you to make sure that the services you buy with direct payments are safe, legal, and meet your care and support needs.

Direct payments money is not classed as income or a benefit and will not affect any benefits you already receive.

If you are over 18, you will be financially assessed to see if you need to contribute to the cost of any support you are entitled to.

Examples of what direct payments can be used for

Here are some examples of how other people have used their direct payments:

  • Mary needs help with day-to-day living at home. Her direct payments pay for her friend, who she has employed as her personal assistant (PA), to come in and help her wash, dress and prepare her meals.
  • John used his direct payments to help him attend a college course and get a job.
  • Abbie's parents use her direct payments to pay for Abbie to attend a drama and dance group to help her socialise and improve her mental wellbeing.

How to find services and products to meet your needs

Our Locate - care and support in County Durham website can help you find services and products you can buy with your direct payments. It has details of providers of care and support services, health groups and other community information.

Many people use their direct payments to employ a personal assistant. This can be a family member or friend who you employ, or someone who is advertising as a PA. Find out more on our Working as a Personal Assistant (PA) to provide care and support page. 

What direct payments cannot be used for

Direct payments cannot be used to:

  • buy health services
  • buy long term residential care or very frequent 'short break' care in a residential facility
  • pay household bills or other personal expenses
  • buy services directly provided by the council
  • employ close relatives who live in the same household (this may be possible in certain circumstances where other support is not available - please discuss this with us)
  • generally, your direct payments cannot be used to purchase equipment to aid your independence as this is usually provided free of charge as a loan through the Mediquip service if you have been assessed as needing this - see Equipment and services in your home

To find out if you can get direct payments please visit our How to get direct payments page.