Newsletter for 
 individual employers and 
 those who support them 

 May 2021 

Welcome to the individual employer update which shares the latest news, resources, events and funding opportunities from Skills for Care and partners, and you can find previous newsletters here.

 Latest news 
Funding to deliver training for personal assistants and their employers

Organisations who are set up and run by disabled people (user-led organisations) can apply for a grant to deliver or buy training to support the learning and development of individual employers and their PAs.

The grant can fund a range of training for example:

  • first aid
  • moving and assisting
  • health and safety
  • employer responsibilities
  • condition specific awareness.

It can also be used to support pre-employment training for prospective PAs and pre-employer training for people who are about to employ their first PA.

Deadline for funding applications is 12 noon on Monday 24 May 2021.

Read more and apply

Workforce intelligence report on individual employers and personal assistants (PAs) published
The latest report on individual employers and personal assistants was published at the end of March 2021.

This report provides information about direct payment recipients and their personal assistants in England. It includes key figures about the size and profile of the personal assistant workforce, turnover rates, pay rates and other workforce information.

  • Around 230,000 adults, older people and carers were receiving direct payments in 2020. Skills for Care estimate that around 70,000 of these were directly employing their own staff.
  • Individual employers had, on average, 1.85 PAs each, creating around 130,000 jobs.
  • PAs had, on average, 1.29 PA jobs each.
  • The average turnover rate of PAs was 18.2%. This was considerably lower than the turnover rate for care workers in the independent sector (39.1%).
  • The average vacancy rate of PAs was 8.1%. This was similar to the vacancy rate amongst care workers (8.1%).
  • Around 20% of PAs were on zero-hours contracts. This was much lower than care workers in the independent sector (35%).
  • The mean hourly pay rate for PAs was £9.95 (February 2021). This was much higher than the mean hourly rate for care workers in the independent sector (£9.20 December 2020).

Read the report

Guidance from the Government and key stakeholders 
Regular COVID-19 testing for personal assistants (PAs)
NHS Test and Trace is making weekly COVID-19 testing available to PAs working in adult social care in England.

PAs are eligible for testing if they provide care that requires them to come within 2 metres of an adult over the age of 18 who they support.

PAs will be responsible for ordering test kits every 21 days or an employee can order test kits on their behalf.

For more information you can join a live webinar which will talk you through the end-to-end process for PA testing and includes a live Q&A with the PA team, who will be happy to answer your questions. Sign up for the webinars.

Guidance on how PAs working in adult social care in England can access weekly COVID-19 testing.

Also published is guidance that outlines the COVID-19 testing available for testing staff, residents and visitors for all adult social care settings.

Direct payments: Working or not working
Informed by the experiences of people with direct payments during the pandemic, a new report published by Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) looks at what's working and what could work better in direct payments.

Direct payments: Working or not working re-articulates what’s needed to enable people to arrange the care and support which best meets their needs and aspirations in line with the original intentions of the policy, and ultimately to contribute to a wider reform of social care.

Free PPE for COVID-19 until the end of March 2022
It has been confirmed that the government has decided to extend the provision of supplies of free COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) use until the end of March 2022.

Where necessary, individual employers should continue to ask for PPE through their local authority or local resilience forum.

COVID-19: Right to work checks
The advice for employers carrying out right to work checks during the COVID-19 pandemic has been updated. The temporary adjustments that were introduced because of the pandemic are due to end on 16 May 2021. After this date, checks cannot be carried out by video and scanned or photocopies of documents can no longer be used in place of originals.

Read more here

Launch of new Peoplehub website
Peoplehub, an independent not-for-profit organisation created and led by people with lived experience of personal health budgets, has recently launched its new website.

Peoplehub works to ensure that more people with long-term health conditions and disabilities are able to shape their lives by making the decisions about their health and wellbeing that matter most to them.

The relaunched site includes a series of guides and information packs to offer realistic and useful information to individuals and families.

⇨ Peoplehub
 Skills for Care resource and support
New: Workforce wellbeing resource finder and learn from others sector stories
There can be overwhelming number of resources, support and help available to support wellbeing which is why Skills for Care has launched this tool to make it easier to find trusted resources. It's been designed to ask a few questions so the resources your presented with meets your needs/interests which should save people time and energy finding the right source of advice.

It holds different resources suited to social care from our national trusted partners, whether you’re looking for self-help, support for others, someone to talk with confidentially or support with mental health. We've also been working with a diverse range of social care providers to create a new ‘learn from others’ area where people can go to find good practice stories, practical tips and ideas which they could could use to support their own and others wellbeing.

The resource finder will be regularly updated based on feedback and learning what resources work well and why.

⇨ Workforce wellbeing resource finder
⇨ Learn from others sector stories

Updated guidance on face-to-face training
During the period of lockdown measures easing, we encourage you to use digital solutions to deliver and access training, as far as is practicable.

If digital solutions aren’t practical, and as you begin to plan for the re-introduction of face-to-face training and assessment, we encourage you to carry out a thorough risk assessment with those appropriate.

As the situation and restrictions continue to change regularly, we will continue to monitor and review this guidance as necessary.

Guidance for employers, learning providers and in-house trainers on face-to-face training and assessment: March 2021

Evidence reviews and sector consultation to inform Skills for Care strategy
Skills for Care undertook an evidence review to inform our new strategy. It looked in depth at the workforce issues and opportunities faced by the adult social care sector and included almost 200 academic, policy and other research and intelligence sources and 13 stakeholder interviews.

The challenges and opportunities in it are not new but it is helpful to bring together in one place. The main areas highlighted were:

  • overcoming recruitment and retention problems
  • workforce development; and
  • supporting workforce equality, diversity, inclusion and wellbeing.

Many people contributed to the work and we’re extremely grateful to them for giving the time.

Strategy evidence review and sector consultation

Supporting people with everyday technology
Using technology is now as much a part of our lives as any other aspect of life that someone might need support with.

Individual employers, PAs and supporting organisations may need help to understand, choose, and use everyday technology for things like:

  • using the internet to stay up to date on guidance, apply for benefits, housing or jobs, doing online shopping or ordering repeat prescriptions
  • accessing track and trace, booking COVID-19 tests and checking results and booking vaccinations
  • video calls to get virtual/online support
  • navigation apps to check public transport times
  • mobile phones to send photos of ailments securely to their GP
  • making three-way calls when they need support to call someone about house repairs or legal issues
  • apps to track fitness, diet and nutrition, sleep, alcohol use, periods and so much more.

Skills for Care has developed some webinars that can help you to make choices about using technology to stay connected and contribute to your community, especially while social distancing restrictions are in place.

Everyday technology information and resources

Care Certificate assessors eLearning course
Created in partnership with Health Education England, the Care Certificate assessors eLearning course has been designed to support Care Certificate assessment.

The eLearning course is primarily for workers who carry out Care Certificate assessment. Containing two 25-minute sessions, the interactive content within the course has been designed to support existing Care Certificate assessors in refreshing their skills, and for those new to assessing.

 Find out more

 Other resources 

Apply for a grant from The Care Workers' Charity
Established in 2009, The Care Workers’ Charity provides crisis grants to people who’ve worked in a paid role in the UK’s care sector and are involved in or support the provision of care. This includes personal assistants.

There are two grant funds available:

  • COVID-19 Emergency Fund
  • Crisis Grant Fund

There’s also a Mental Health Support Fund, which offers applicants a series of up to ten support sessions with a qualified therapist.

Find out more and check your eligibility to apply

Protect, respect, connect - decisions about living and dying well during COVID-19
The Department for Health and Social Care commissioned the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to conduct a special review following concerns at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic about ‘do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation’ (DNACPR) decisions being made without consulting people’s families and/or carers if that’s what they wished. Instead decisions were being applied to groups of people, rather than considering each person’s individual circumstances.

The review shows there needs to be a focus on the following three key areas:
1. information, training and support
2. a consistent national approach to advance care planning
3. improved oversight and assurance.

⇨ Find out more and read the report

Access Skills for Care’s end of life care resources.
Webinars for individual employers and those who support them
We’re continuing to develop a series of webinars in a range of topics to support individual employers, personal assistants and organisations supporting them during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Webinars delivered so far cover topics such as:

  • planning, keeping safe, and being prepared - now and in the future
  • preparation for better conversations for PAs and individual employers
  • understanding your responsibilities as an employer of personal assistants (PAs)
  • wellbeing for individual employers and those supporting them
  • learning and development webinar for individual employers and PAs
  • recruiting personal assistants during a pandemic.

The webinars are delivered live to a small number of participants and recorded for further viewing. Watch the webinars.

If there is a topic you’d like us to consider for future webinars, get in touch.

 Get involved 

Cost of recruitment user research
Skills for Care has commissioned Lagom Strategy Ltd to research the needs of adult social care employers when calculating the cost of recruitment activities.

We’d like to hear the views of individual employers and organisations supporting them with recruitment.

If you’d like to be involved, please register your interest by completing this short online form where you can select how you’d like to contribute. Researchers will be in touch afterwards about next steps.

Volunteers needed for research on experience of wearing PPE
The government would like to speak with personal assistants and their employers from different ethnic backgrounds for research they are carrying out into their experience of wearing PPE.

Interviews are taking place from 10 May 2021 and if you’d like to give your views, please email and we’ll forward your details onto the team working with the researchers.

Booking your vaccination appointment through the National Booking Service
All eligible frontline social care workers (including PAs) can book their COVID-19 vaccination appointment through the
National Booking Service.

Information hub for individual employers, PAs and supporting organisations
Skills for Care’s information hub brings together useful information from lots of different places. It has toolkits, videos, and guides as well as local organisations and experts who can offer advice. It also has relevant information about COVID-19.

⇨ Information hub
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Get involved on Twitter using hashtag
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