A 35 per cent spike in the number of direct payments to families sourcing their own domiciliary care packages has prompted a note of caution from Sinn Féin Health spokesperson, Patricia Logue.
Colr. Logue said direct payments should only be used when it was people’s informed and willing choice.
She was speaking after the latest Health Trust figures showed a sharp increase in the number of direct payments made year-on-year in both the Belfast and Western Trust areas.
She said: “Between June and September this year in Belfast, the number jumped from 515 to 709 and in the Western Trust the number increased from 615 to 829 over a 12-month period.
“That in itself is not a bad thing but this option should only be pursued when it is through an informed and willing choice by the family concerned.”
Colr. Logue said people should not be put in a position where they felt direct payments were the only option for them and their families.
“There is a risk that families and carers struggling to get the care packages they need may feel pressurised into accepting direct payments and try to sort arrangements themselves,” said the Sinn Féin councillor.
Colr. Logue suggested the health authorities should look at the payments system.
“That should never be the case and the Trusts should ensure that steps are taken to ensure the most effective direct payments model is in place as part of the ongoing review into adult social care.”