Northern Ireland: Personal budgets

7. Capacity to manage direct payments

A trust will only offer direct payments to a person if it is satisfied that the individual is willing to receive the payments (gives consent) and is able to manage the payments (with help if needed).

If someone is not able to manage direct payments because they lose the capacity to do so, then the trust may continue to make payments as long as a suitable person is prepared to handle them instead. This person must be prepared to manage the direct payments and care package on a day-to-day basis on behalf of, and in the best interests of, the person. They could be (listed from most to least common):

  • a carer or other family member
  • another person deemed suitable by the local trust
  • an attorney acting under an Enduring Power of Attorney
  • an appointed controller.

Many people with dementia decide to nominate someone to assume Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) on their behalf. The person makes the EPA in the expectation that, if they lose capacity, the appointed attorney will lawfully be able to deal with their property or affairs. (This will require that the attorney applies to register the EPA with the Office of Care and Protection.)

The situation is less straightforward for someone who has not made an EPA and has lost capacity, as they cannot give consent or manage direct payments. In these circumstances, the Office of Care and Protection may appoint a controller to manage the person's affairs on their behalf.