Everyone talks about how direct payments and personalisation changes people’s lives and I agree for many it has certainly appeared to be that case. But the question is whether it was the fact money was provided or rather the amount that was provided and the support planning process which went along with it.
I came to Coventry in September 1992 and I entered the realms of being a service user at the very start of community care. The idea of residential care was certainly not on the table and definitely not since I am an ambitious university student who had high expectations of what I was going to do with my life.
I was always going to lead an independent life and direct payments was simply the mechanism available to do that. If direct payments was not around, which was indeed the case, other ways to make a payment to me was made possible.
Therefore direct payments did not change my life as it was my life. I was always on track and I think this is the right way to see this issue. We should not be changing people’s lives as services should not be bad enough to need changing.
Social care currently assumes the lowest expectations for someone’s outcomes and then tries to make it a bit better. I think it should be assumed people have high expectations and potential which services and systems should simply deliver without a needing to celebrate every time the fact users are do what is actually or should be quite normal.