Opportunities for independent living using direct payments in mental health

Spandler, Helen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0970-5141 and Vick, N (2006) Opportunities for independent living using direct payments in mental health. Health and Social Care in the Community, 14 (2). pp. 107-115. ISSN 0966-0410

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Official URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-...


Mental health service users have yet to reap the benefits of greater choice, control and independent living, which direct payments have facilitated in other groups of community care users, particularly people with physical disabilities. To redress this imbalance a national pilot to promote direct payments to people with mental health needs in five local authority sites across England was set up and evaluated. The evaluation used a multi-method approach incorporating both qualitative and quantitative data, including individual semi-structured interviews and group discussions with key stakeholders across the pilot sites. This article draws on findings from the pilot evaluation to provide a preliminary understanding of how applicable the independent living philosophy is to mental health and what opportunities direct payments offer for service users. When given the opportunity, service users were able to use direct payments creatively to meet a range of needs in ways which increased their choice, control and independence. This suggests that the benefits of greater independent living through direct payments may be realisable in mental health. However, a number of ways in which the principles of direct payments in mental health could be ‘downgraded’ were identified. The evaluation results indicate that a thorough understanding of the independent living philosophy needs to be developed in the context of mental health.

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