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Frederick and Henry Avella, who receive direct payments

Giving carers ‘freedom and more choice’

Being a carer can feel like a full-time job, and very often it is. However, Ealing Council offers people a flexible way of arranging their care and support, including time away from caring duties.

“With direct payments, we have freedom and more choice,” said Frederick Avella, the father of Henry – who has Down’s Syndrome.

Through ‘direct payments’, the council gives money directly to local people to pay for their agreed care needs. Doing it this way means they have more control over choosing the services that work best for them. It suits people who might want to arrange their care in a more personalised way, instead of solely being reliant on services the council offers.

The council’s Ealing Direct service provides information, advice and support in planning and monitoring the arrangements.

Henry, 48, uses his direct payments to pay for six weekends of respite care a year and for employing a personal carer for 11 weekends a year, so that his parents can have a break.

Frederick said: “His carer takes him to the cinema, theatre or a museum like the Science Museum. It’s a form of respite for us parents. Otherwise we would have to care for him all the time. Weekends can be difficult, but it gives us a break. It gives us time to go to the theatre, we can do a dinner and dance.”

‘It has changed Henry’s life’

Henry also uses some of the money to pay for theatre classes at Impact Theatre, which he has been attending for 15 years. He has been in many productions, including the Canterbury Tales and a Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, and he thoroughly enjoys being in the limelight. Henry said: “I love the audience and I love the applause. I feel very confident on the stage. I feel like I’m an actor, because that is what I am.”

Frederick said using direct payments to pay for theatre has had a positive impact on him and that, along with theatre productions, Henry has taken part in fashion shows and has participated in local carnival parades. Frederick said: “It has changed Henry’s life. Not only has it given him satisfaction and self-fulfilment, he always has something to look forward to. Going to theatre classes has helped Henry to be creative and imaginative and he is better at communicating. I’m not worried about Henry, because I have full confidence. And that means we can live a normal life.”

More information

If you have care needs, the Social Care Advice and Referral Centre can help you find the best options to enable you to stay independent:

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