GOV.UK has guidance on Using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak: full guidance for people receiving direct payments and personal assistants. This is updated when any change is made.

There is also an easy read version: Coronavirus (Covid-19): guidance for people receiving direct payments (easy read).

Guidance for people who receive direct payments

The key messages in the government’s direct payment guidance during coronavirus are:

  • your direct payments will continue as before
  • you should continue to pay your personal contribution to your direct payment
  • we will keep you updated to help you stay safe

The government expects councils and direct payment holders to be flexible in how direct payments are used during coronavirus.

You have the flexibility to use your payment in a way that makes sure you get the care and support you need safely.

This could mean that you vary your agreed care and support plan. We do not need to sign it off if it means you get the help you need.

Keep receipts and let us know how you have used direct payments during this time.

There is no automatic additional funding to direct payments but contact us if you have additional costs.

If you are an adult contact us on 01454 868007. Parents of disabled children must contact their social worker.

Personal assistants

Personal assistants are key workers. This means they are eligible for:

free winter flu vaccinations
personal protective equipment (PPE)

For local information on free winter flu vaccinations email publichealthsouthgloucestershire@southglos.gov.uk

We supply free PPE for personal assistants. You can read more about this on our Apply for personal protective equipment (PPE) page.

What to do if wearing a face covering will affect communication

Wearing a face covering can have a significant impact on how a personal assistant communicates with people who:

  • have a hearing loss or are deaf
  • are autistic
  • have a learning disability
  • are diagnosed with any type of dementia
  • have mental health problems

Here are some things that a PA can do to help:

  • say hello to the person (without their face covering) through a window when they first arrive
  • explain to them who they are and what they are going to do introduce yourself so the person knows who you are
  • tell them why they are wearing a face covering (to keep everyone safe)
    wear a picture badge of their face
  • face the person and you are speaking to
  • speak clearly
  • use body language
  • use ClearMasks™ if approriate

Public Health England say that staff can choose not to wear a face covering when working with a person with learning disabilities. This would be based on a risk assessment that shows it would do more harm than good.

This approach can also be used when supporting people with other conditions.

Testing

The government recommends that everyone has regular rapid lateral flow tests to help stop the spread of the virus. You use this test if you do not have symptoms of coronavirus.

If you or your personal assistant have symptoms of coronavirus you must visit GOV.UK to book a PCR test.

Self-isolating

The NHS website has information on self-isolation and treating symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19).

If you or your personal assistant test positive for coronavirus then you both need to self-isolate.

Planning for your personal assistant being unable to visit

Think about how you would manage if your personal assistant were unable to visit. They may be ill or self-isolating.

There are agencies that give emergency cover, you can use your funding in your direct payments account to pay for this.

Make sure you are paying for a service that meets the care and support plan or education, health, and care plan.

Essential care to meet support needs can be done by a:

  • different agency or personal assistant
  • family member or friend
  • a personal assistant who has supported you before

Personal assistants who are free because the person they normally support does not want their help at this time may be able to give cover.

New arrangements will need to be put in place for when they go back to supporting their previous employer.

Contact us if you need to talk about funding to pay for a replacement personal assistant.

We can also discuss using your direct payment to buy equipment or support that is different to what is in your support plan

If your contingency arrangements are not able meeting your needs or those of you child, then get in touch with your (or your child’s) social worker.

GOV.UK has information on keeping safe when PAs become sick or are unable to work.

Paying your personal assistant

If your personal assistant is off sick with coronavirus you must pay them their salary rather than statutory sick pay.

If they have been told to self- isolate by NHS Track and Trace or have a family member who has coronavirus then you must pay your personal assistant while they are self-isolating.

If your personal assistant has to stay home to care for children because of an outbreak at school, we advise that they parental or carers leave (paid or unpaid).

If you are paying for replacement care you can use your contingency fund. If this fund is running low, then contact us to see if we can help

Day services

Day service providers should continue to be paid during the coronavirus situation whether you are receiving services or not.

Continue to pay for your place until we tell you otherwise.

If you are not receiving services now, your provider and a social worker will contact you to discuss your possible return to the service.

You may also decide that you no longer need this service, because you are meeting your outcomes in a different way, or do not feel comfortable going out and about.

The social worker will discuss this with you and if you need another type of support. If you decide to cancel your place with the day service, make sure you tell us and your provider.

If you are an adult contact us on 01454 868007. Parents of disabled children must contact their social worker.

Community based providers

The council advised to continue to pay providers for support at home until the end of August 2020, whether you were receiving support or not. From the beginning of September 2020, only pay for the care and support received.

When to contact us

Contact our Adult care team on 01454 868007 if: 

  • your personal assistant is unable to work and you cannot find anyone to cover 
  • you are planning  changes to how you receive support 
  • you have replacement care costs which you will not be able to pay for

Other things that can help

Direct Payment Monitoring Team on 01454 865949 for any other questions relating to your direct payment.

Direct payment support providers page.

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