Frequently Asked Questions

As the first and main organisation in Ireland to facilitate Direct Payments to people with disabilities, we at Áiseanna Tacaíochta (ÁT) are always on hand to explain how our model works and to answer any questions or queries you might have.  Here, we will outline some of the key terms and topics you will come across in exploring our model of Direct Payments.

You can also click here to access our growing range of documents which will be packed full with more information.  If you ever have anything you’d like to ask us, we’d love to hear from you – just call us or send us your queries using the contact form at the bottom of this page.


  • What is Independent Living?

Independent Living means that you, as a person with a disability, enjoy the same freedom, dignity and choice as everyone else, and that you are empowered to take charge of your own life, making the decisions which affect you for yourself.  This extends to all aspects of your life: at home, at work, and in the community.

Independent Living means that you are entitled to and can access the practical support and assistance which enables you to contribute and participate fully in society, equally to other citizens.


  • What is a Personal Assistant?

A Personal Assistant (PA) is employed by a person with a disability to empower them to live with independence.  As an employer, your PA provides assistance and takes action according to your personal directions and at your discretion; this enables you to take full advantage of your life opportunities and experiences, and to pursue your goals and interests.  Using our model of Direct Payments, for instance, allows you to recruit and train your own PAs and to fit the service around your life.  The role of a PA promotes and strengthens your rights to individual choice, flexibility and Independent Living, empowering you to participate equally and to take control of your own life.


  • What is a Leader?

At ÁT, our members are known as Leaders.  A Leader is a person with a disability who employs PAs, either directly or through a service provider.  As a Leader, you take charge of your PA service, holding responsibility for its daily management.  You give your personal instructions to your PAs, dealing with any actions or outcomes from these yourself, arranging training for your PAs and supervising the service.  Being a Leader puts you in control of your services.


  • What is a Direct Payment?

A Direct Payment is a cash payment made directly to an eligible person with a disability to enable them to purchase their own care or support services.  

Under our model, as one of our Leaders, you receive a budget allocated to support your service needs from the Health Service Executive (HSE).  We then support you to set up your own company so that we can re-route this funding directly to you.  This allows you to choose and manage your own services, mainly PA.

In Ireland, there is no legal framework yet in place for Direct Payments.  This is why our model involves the establishment of a company in order for you to receive your payment.  However, by demonstrating the positive impact of Direct Payments in people’s lives, as well as their value for money, we hope to establish a simplified model of Direct Payments for people with disabilities in Irish policy.


  • What does it mean to unbundle money?

Unbundling money occurs when a service provider rearranges funding so that you can begin to personalise your supports.

Service providers currently receive block funding from the HSE for the provision of supports and services to people with disabilities.  Unbundling money means that the service provider separates the money for your individual service needs from this main block. This money is then exclusively used for your customised support arrangements, although, in many cases, the cost of administration to the service provider may be removed from that amount.

Unbundling money hands you more choice and control. You can either receive this money directly, or work with the service provider to manage how it is spent; the amount of choice and control you have over the funding therefore rests on which of these routes you take.
Under our model of Direct Payments, you receive your money directly, using it to choose and manage your own services. Our model removes the cost of administration fees, giving you greater value for money and more flexibility. Using Direct Payments to customise your services enables you to actively participate in and contribute to your community.


  • What is personalisation of services?

Personalisation of services recognizes that everyone should have the choice and opportunity to shape the services that they receive, ensuring that these supports fit with their lives in the best possible way.

The aim of personalisation is to tailor services to your needs and to make them more personal.  It moves you to the centre of the process, allowing you to become actively involved: this means choosing the ways in which your supports are delivered.  Personalisation therefore offers flexibility in responding to your needs, and empowers you to live with input and choice.


  • What is an intermediary?

An intermediary acts as a link between people or organisations in order to help the different sides to reach an agreement together.  The intermediary’s role is to connect the interested parties, present their situations and objectives, encourage discussion, and ensure co-operation throughout the process.  The role can involve linking people or organisations who hold funding with those who wish to use that money.

We act as an intermediary between you and the HSE in order to set up a Direct Payment to you.  At the moment in Ireland, Direct Payments stand as a new approach and are not set in law; an intermediary is therefore required to facilitate the process.


  • What is brokerage?

A broker is a person or organisation which arranges a transaction between you, the buyer, and a seller, and which takes a commission when the deal is made.  This commission, called a brokerage fee, covers services such as negotiations, purchases or advice on the transaction.

In one sense, ÁT acts as a broker: through our intermediary role between you and the HSE, we arrange the transaction which allows you to receive a Direct Payment.  As a Leader, you therefore pay a small membership rate to us as a form of brokerage fee.  This covers the costs involved in this intermediary role, as well as those incurred in supporting you with the establishment and maintenance of your company.

However, our role stretches far beyond that of the traditional broker.  As well as the initial arrangement of these deals – which is where a broker’s function normally ends – we work hard to offer you support at every stage, ensuring that the services you receive are continually upheld and monitored to a high standard.  We provide leadership and training, encouraging peer support and developing strong networks across communities which you can always turn to for further advice and assistance.  We also contribute to on-going research and evaluation which progresses disability policy and leads to the development of alternative supports, including Direct Payments.


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