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COVID-19: Individual employer

Find information and guidance for people and families employing personal assistants using a personal budget from health or social care or their own money.

  • The Department of Health and Social Care published guidance for individuals who receive care and support through direct payments. This guidance was updated on 11 September. It does not have new advice but is no longer aimed at people receiving direct payments. It is now is aimed at commissioners and local government only.
    ⇨ See guidance 

  • Using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak 
    ⇨ See guidance 

  • The seven most important things that direct payments holders, LAs, CCGs and PAs should know during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
    ⇨ See guidance
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: people receiving direct payments.
    ⇨ See guidance
  • COVID-19: guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people

  • Changes to the Care Act 2014 – Care Act easements: The guidance sets out how local authorities can use the new Care Act provisions, created under the Coronavirus Act 2020, to prioritise care and support for those who need it most.
    ⇨ See guidance 

  • Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid during COVID-19:If you're an employer, find out if you can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to reclaim employees' coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
    ⇨ See guidance

Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can get a free test to check if they have the virus. Some people without symptoms can have the test too. This test is called the "antigen" or "swab" test.

There is another type of test (antibody test) that checks if you've already had the virus. This test is not widely available yet.

⇨ Ask for a test

As essential workers, personal assistants can apply for priority testing through GOV.UK by following the guidance on testing for essential workers.

⇨ Arrange a test for a PA

Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible, how to get tested and the testing process.
⇨ See guidance

  • Guidance from Public Health England: This guidance contains information on personal protective equipment (PPE), and infection prevention and control (IPC)
    ⇨  See guidance

  • How to work safely as a home carer:
    Although designed for care providers, these illustrated guides from Public Health England may be helpful to support your PAs with putting on and taking off PPE.

    ⇨ Putting on personal protective equipment (PPE).
    ⇨ Taking off personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • What PPE to wear and when – an illustrative guide
    This guide from Public Health England is designed for community health and social care settings, will also be helpful for employers and PAs.
    ⇨  See guidance. 
  • Guidance on the use of PPE:A video has been designed to be less clinical and easier to understand than other health related PPE videos. It is for care workers working in a care home, but may be useful for PAs and family members 
    ⇨ Watch the video.

  • PPE supplies: If your existing direct payment contains funding to purchase PPE for your PA, you should continue to use that funding to purchase PPE. If you, or your PA, cannot obtain PPE in this way, or your direct payment is not set up to fund PPE, you should ask for assistance from the local authority or CCG that provides your direct payment who should help you to get the PPE you require.
  • Mark Bates Ltd The Home of Premier has created a guide in relation to PPE.
    ⇨  Download the PPE guide from Mark Bates.

  • Press release:Treasury cut taxes to reduce PPE costs From 1 May 2020, PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against COVID-19 will be free from VAT for a three-month period.⇨  Read the Treasury cut taxes to reduce PPE costs press release.

  • PPE – resource for care workers delivering homecare (domiciliary care) during COVID-19 

Guidance relating to visiting people in hospitals has been updated. PAs can accompany patients where appropriate and necessary to assist with the patient’s communication and/or to meet the patient’s health or social care needs. 

⇨ Further information

  • Skills for Care has identified training that remains a priority during this period. This includes working with our endorsed providers who are delivering training. PAs can access this training, but you should discuss this with your employer first, who should contact the learning provider to make sure the training course would be suitable. 
    ⇨ Read more.

E-Learning:
Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare (HEE e-LfH) has created an e-learning programme in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic that is free to access, without logging in, for the entire UK health and care workforce, including those working in the NHS, the independent sector and social care. The programme includes key materials to help the health and care workforce respond to Coronavirus.

⇨ Access e-learning.

  • Digital skills:
    Learn my way is a website of free online courses for beginners, helping you develop digital skills to make the most of the online world. It includes a range of subjects including internet skills to learn about video calling, online shopping and socialising online.
    ⇨ Find out more 

 

  • Keeping in touch via video apps 
    The Evening Standard has produced a list of the eight video messaging apps to download if you are self-isolating.
    ⇨ Watch the videos

  • MARCH network
    ⇨ cultural and community assets has shared some home-based, creative ways to support mental health during these unique and uncertain times .
    ⇨ Find out more.

Key worker letter - We can confirm the personal assistants are included in the Government’s list of key workers. We have been made aware that some personal assistants may be encountering difficulties as they do not have ID like NHS workers or people employed by care providers

You can download useful templates that can be used to support your PAs below:

  • CCGs may want to personalise this and send to PHB holders to support their PAs.
    ⇨ Download template.
  • Download template - this template has been developed for employers to personalise and use to support their PAs 
  • IE guidance for their PAs 
    This guidance has been written by IEs and shared with us. You can use this to develop your own guidance for your PAs bearing in mind any updated government guidance.
    ⇨ Download COVID-19 PA advice guidlines

  • Advance care planning guidance and template
    ‘My COVID-19 Advance Care Plan’ has been developed by NHS England and NHS Improvement and is a way to capture and share the decisions you have made around the care and treatment you would like, if you develop severe COVID-19 symptoms.
    ⇨ Download the template and guidance.
  • Disability Sheffield
    Find information and support for IEs including details of a new PA register to support with recruitment.
    ⇨ Find out more.
  • Independent Lives
    Advice for Direct Payment Employers.
    ⇨ Find out more 

  • Knowlsey Disability Concern
    Advice and guidance for people using direct payments.
    ⇨ Find out more.

  • Surrey ILC
    SILC has produced a series of ‘Fast Facts’ and other information to support IEs and PAs.
    ⇨ Find out more.

  • Penderels Trust
    Find answers to frequently asked questions, a be prepared factsheet and key worker letter template in relation to COVID-19.
    ⇨ Find out more.

  • Wiltshire CIL
    Wiltshire CIL has produced a list of resource and information, a joint statement with VCSE and a community support toolkit 
    ⇨ Find out more.

  • DaCE Cumbria
    DaCE Cumbria has produced some resources individual employers and PAs might find useful. There’s a factsheet for people using direct payments and resources for disabled people.
    ⇨ Find out more.

  • People Plus Independent Living
    Services People Plus supports thousands of direct payment recipients in more than 25 local authority areas. They have produced a number of COVID-19 related information sheets.
    ⇨ Find out more.

  • Inclusion Gloucestershire
    You can find a link to a community help hub and general advice for anyone concerned about COVID-19 and preparing to self-isolate in easy read format.
    ⇨ Find out more.

  • Leeds CIL
    Leeds CIL has information for customers and developed guidance on pay and use of PPE.
    ⇨ Find out more.

  • Real DPO – Tower Hamlets
    Real have put together information, and other guidance, to help us help each other through this difficult time.
    ⇨ Find out more.

  • Possability People - Brighton
    For a range of information to support people during COVID-19, including details of their Get Involved Group.
    ⇨ Find out more.

  • WECIL
    You can find advice about COVID-19, dedicated direct payment advice and details of Bristol Line support.
  • Disability North
    General support http://www.disabilitynorth.org.uk/coronavirus-virus-our-response-guidance/
    Support specifically for individual employers (IEs): http://www.disabilitynorth.org.uk/coronavirus-virus-our-response-guidance/advice-and-support-for-direct-payment-employers/

Be Human:
The ‘Be Human’ movement want to learn from people’s experiences during the Coronavirus Pandemic, both good and bad, and to help where they can if it is appropriate. Here’s an important opportunity to record your experiences, of getting health, social care services and treatment for COVID-19 during the period of the Pandemic and its aftermath. 
⇨  Share your experience.

Recruiting during COVID-19: 
Skills for Care recognises that you may have had extra recruitment challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and would like to hear about any creative ways you, or organisations that support you, have been doing so your care needs have continued to have been met, for example, sharing or pooling PAs. Email PA.Framework@skillsforcare.org.uk to share your solutions.

Write a blog for Skills for Care:
Employers across social care and health are sharing their stories during the pandemic. If you’d like to write an article or blog for Skills for Care, please email PA.Framework@skillsforcare.org.uk with a summary of what you’d like to talk about and share with others.

  • Corona heroes
    For people and families to help share useful links, practical tips and ideas that people who manage their direct payments have put in place for themselves and their PAs.
    ⇨ Find out more.
  • Fast track DBS
    If you need to recruit a new PA quickly during this time, the DBS has launched a fast track DBS check. Discuss this with your usual DBS service.
    ⇨ Find out more.
  • ACAS
    Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for employers and employees.
    ⇨ Find out more.
  • Create my support plan 
    It is important that you plan for your care needs. If your normal PA is unable to work, it is possible that you might get support from somebody who does not already know how you want things done. 

    Create my Support Plan allows you to create a support plan you can give to your social worker during the care assessment processes. 
  • Carers UK
    Current government guidance as it relates to carers, offers suggestions for making plans, answers some frequently asked questions, a Wellbeing Action Plan and more.
    ⇨ Find out more.
  • Mark Bates Ltd/Premier Care
    Insurance provider Mark Bates Ltd. has developed a guide for individuals who employ their own staff. It contains the most common questions that they have been asked, reminds IEs of their policies and to seek the support of the helpline if required.
    ⇨ Find out more.
  • Mark Bates Ltd – Furlough FAQ 
    Mark Bates Ltd. has developed a short guide for CCGs and local authorities who are thinking about pursuing the redeployment of personal assistants whilst they are not working in their usual roles.
    ⇨ Download the furlough FAQs.
  • Fish Insurance
    A list of FAQs for people who employ PAs and covering a wide range of scenarios can be found.
    ⇨ Find out more
  • Challenging Behaviour Foundation
    The charity for people with severe learning disabilities whose behaviour challenges has developed some COVID-19 specific information and resources. 
    ⇨ Read more
  • COVID-19 self-assessment and risk management tool
    This self-assessment and risk management template has been developed by individual employers with the aim of supporting PAs to return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been kindly shared with Skills for Care so that others who are employing PAs can use it or adapt it to meet their support needs. It is an example of the kind of self and risk assessments you may want to consider.
    ⇨ Download the 'COVID-19 self-assessment and risk management tool'

  • PAs returning to work & safety of individual employers who have been shielding
    Shielding measures are being lifted by the Government on 1st August, TLAP’s direct payment reference group has helped produce the following factsheet which will help individual employers to support their PAs to return to work. It was authored by Mark Bates Ltd, co-sponsors of the London Self Directed Support Forum.
    Download the factsheet
  • Risk Assessment Tool for Personal Assistants (PAs) Returning to Work
    This tool, developed by Sheffield Individual Employer and PA Development Group, has been developed to help employers to think about how they might support their PAs to return to work and feel they are in a safe environment. The information in this document is only a guide. It gives you topics and poses questions for you to consider when assessing the risks that might exist, and how you may minimise these.
    See the risk assement tool.

  • Working safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
    This guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is for all types of employers and is designed to make work and workplaces safe. Individual employers may find some aspects of it helpful.
    ⇨ See guidance

All frontline health and social care workers should get the winter flu vaccination - including all Personal Assistants (PAs). For the first time, this year, PAs will be able to access the vaccine free of charge from GPs and community pharmacies, via the NHS Complementary Scheme. This vaccination is available now. (Local availability may vary).

To access the scheme, your PAs will simply need to attend a GP surgery or community pharmacy and identify themselves as a PA. However, we are aware that individuals have been asked to provide proof in the past and we have therefore provided a letter that can be used for identification.

The process for PAs to access the flu vaccination, is as follows:

  1. Print the 'Letter of entitlement'
  2. You as your PA’s employer should fill out this letter, to prove you employ the PA. Give it to your PA. This will act as their ‘letter of entitlement’ to the vaccination.
  3. They will then need to visit their local GP or community pharmacist, who will be able to give them the flu vaccination. If they need to prove their entitlement, they can use the letter of entitlement.
  4. The vaccination will then be given to them, free of charge.

 

Skills for Care have also developed dedicated COVID-19 webpages covering all areas of the adult health care sector should you need it, access the pages.

We're sharing feedback with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England & Improvement on the challenges many of you are facing, so that where possible they can be picked up in future guidance. If there’s a specific problem you don’t know how to deal with, please get in touch at PA.Framework@skillsforcare.org.uk.