Direct payments

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and managing your Direct Payment

The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is and continues to be a serious concern across the country. We are following advice to try to reduce the risk of infection and to minimise the risk to people who may be especially vulnerable.

It is possible that COVID-19 may result in adults, carers, children and young people with disabilities, who arrange their own care, support and/or short breaks through direct payment, having to make changes to the way that their care, support and/or short breaks are delivered because, for example:

  • of social distancing rules;
  • you, your household or your care staff (personal assistants and/or care agency staff) or members of their household are shielding (as and when applicable), self-isolating or have had a positive COVID-19 result;
  • there are not enough personal assistants and care workers, employed via care providers, available to meet the usual level of demand for care and support.

This also might mean that care, support, personal care and/or short breaks are stopped on a temporary or permanent basis.

You also might have to make alternative arrangements which can include:

  • Considering whether you, the person you care for or your child could manage with fewer visits or with less time
  • Asking whether other paid carers or personal assistants could temporarily increase their hours
  • Adjusting the tasks that paid carers or personal assistants are completing
  • Recruiting another personal assistant
  • Registering with a care provider (see below)
  • Asking your family members, friends or other people you know to support you voluntarily.

You can find an agency by visiting the Care Quality Commission. If you need support to find another personal assistant or a care provider, you can also contact Penderels Trust on 024 7651 1611 or visit the Penderels Trust website and register on their PA finder.

Please contact the Independent Living Team on 024 7527 0960 or [email protected], if you have permanently stopped your support, or your support has reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local tiering alerts, lockdown and delivering personal care and support in people’s homes (when applicable)

If your own local alert level becomes tier two and above or a national lockdown is announced, it is confirmed by the Department for Health and Social Care that personal assistants will continue to be considered as key workers. This means that they can continue to deliver care in people’s homes and maintain their status as a key worker.

Information on the local tiering system for Coventry (when applicable).

This status of Personal Assistants as key workers during periods of tier two and three and national lockdown. This is not anticipated to change.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for people receiving direct payments

This new guidance, published on 21 April (updated on 27 April 2021), is for people who buy care and support through a direct payment, as well as local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and those who provide care and support. It sets out key messages to managing a direct payment during this time and helps slow the transmission of COVID-19.

Read the updated information and guidance.

This guidance includes examples of emergency direct payments and using direct payments during the COVID-19 pandemic including:

  • purchasing PPE,
  • purchasing additional care,
  • purchasing hours from an additional carer or personal assistant,
  • paying for retainer payments to personal assistants who are not working due to COVID-19 restrictions,
  • adjusting the tasks paid carers and personal assistants undertake,
  • paying one-off direct payment for alternative solutions,
  • paying for a close family member.

Emergency and flexible direct payments related to the COVID-19 pandemic will need to be approved by your social work team.

If you are an adult or support an adult to manage a direct payment, please contact Adult Social Care Direct on 024 7683 3003 or the Council Independent Living Team on 0247 527 0960 or [email protected].

If you are a parent or a carer managing a direct payment to arrange breaks or personal care for a child, please contact the child’s social worker or the duty worker in the Children with Disabilities Team on 024 7678 7980 or the Council Independent Living Team on 024 7527 0960 or [email protected].

Each request will be determined based on the assessment of unmet eligible needs, the alternative provision available, the current government guidelines and the adult, child and families’ circumstances including their current vaccination status.

Support to people managing direct payments during the Covid-19 pandemic

Penderels Trust has produced lots of helpful factsheets and resources to support you to manage your direct payment during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can access Penderels Trust resources related to Covid-19 (Coronavirus) for Direct Payment recipients.

You can also telephone Penderels on 024 7651 1611 or email them at [email protected] for support to manage your direct payment, recruit new personal assistants and support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Direct Payment Employers (employing personal assistants)

The Council originally agreed for direct payment employers (adults, parents and carers) not using some, or all of their direct payment as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic to continue to pay a retainer payment to their personal assistants who have not been providing replacement care (short breaks or respite), home support and support to access the community between 23 March and 30 June 2020.

This was restarted for the period between 4 January 2021 and 12 April 2021 due to the third national lockdown. This will be applicable if there are any further lockdowns related to Covid-19 in the future.

Please note, that the retainer will no longer apply in every situation.

If personal assistants or direct payment employers have been told to shield, then there is a possibility that the personal assistants could be furloughed. 

However, most personal assistants cannot normally be furloughed because they are funded by a public-funded organisation. However, as mentioned this could be arranged in exceptional circumstances, such as shielding. Visit Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for more guidance.

If furlough is not available, then a retainer payment could be paid to personal assistants. 

If personal assistants can adjust how they carry out their role to meet the needs of the adults, children and carers that they support then a retainer payment cannot be used. If fewer hours are provided, then you just pay for the hours that are worked. 

If the direct payment employer or their household is shielding then the personal assistants that they employ could be paid a retainer.

If personal assistants are too worried about supporting the person with care and support funded by a direct payment due because of contracting Covid-19, then you will need to ask your personal assistant/s to take a period of paid leave and if not, agree unpaid leave with them pending a social care review of the cared for person’s needs. If you require other support during this time, see above for details about other care and support options. 

If you or anyone in your household is worried about contracting COVID-19 and you have asked your personal assistants not to come into work, explore whether PA's can be furloughed and if not pay up to eight weeks retainer pending social care review of needs.

If personal assistants are off work because they are sick or self-isolating, they will need to claim statutory sick pay. If the period of sickness is longer than two weeks, you will need to contact the Independent Living Team on 024 7527 0960 or [email protected] to discuss your funding requirements.

Personal assistants that are unfit for work or self-isolating are entitled to statutory sick pay (if eligible) from day one of the absence. Government advice on sick pay entitlement during the COVID-19 crisis.

Direct Payment recipients who restart their personal assistants after lockdowns periods end will continue to receive their direct payment from Coventry City Council.

If you do not restart your personal assistants at all you will need to inform the Council Independent Living Team on 024 7527 0960 or [email protected]. Your direct payment might need to be ended or suspended and you will require a social care review. You will need to either make your staff redundant, agree unpaid leave with them or see if they are eligible to still be furloughed.

There has been some relaxation to the rules related to Disclosure and Barring checks, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Direct payment employers should where possible still check identification in person, but where this is not possible, they should:

  • initially ask for identification to be sent electronically
  • where possible check the identification via video link
  • check the identification in person at the first opportunity

For more support on how to manage your personal assistants during this crisis, please contact our Direct Payment Support Service, Penderels Trust on 024 7651 1611 or email them at [email protected] or the Council Independent Living Team on 024 7527 0960 or [email protected].

Please contact your employment insurance provider for advice on employment law and contracts.

Infection control for paid carers and/or personal assistants

The direct payment recipient needs to make sure that the health and safety procedures are always fully explained to their personal assistants and that they enforce these procedures.

Please be advised that if you employ a personal assistant, you are entitled to free PPE for your personal assistant, where this is needed as a result of the guidance set out on the government webpage.

You do not now need to use the funding in your direct payment to buy PPE needed as a result of COVID-19. DHSC has committed to providing free PPE for COVID-19 needs until 31 March 2022 through the Local Authority.

You can access free PPE by contacting [email protected].

PPE requirements for family members, friends and unpaid carers providing care and support and living with you

Generally, family members and friends who provide you with care and support and also live in your household do not need to use additional PPE. They should follow good infection control practices, particularly hand and cough hygiene, and should not provide you with direct care if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

Where your family members and friends are living elsewhere and also provide paid or unpaid care and support for you, the normal PPE guidance should be followed.

PPE requirements for people providing you with care and support, who don't live with you

If the person providing you with care and support does not live in the same accommodation as you then PPE should be worn where appropriate. 

In order to assist you to determine your PPE requirements please read the latest Government guidance. (This also applies even if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms.)

Furthermore, if your PA normally receives (non-COVID-19) PPE to support you, this must continue.

Should you need any further information or support on PPE or have any questions about Covid-19 and using your direct payment please contact the Independent Living Team on [email protected].

General advice on infection control and the appropriate equipment and clothing.

If you manage a direct payment and employ personal assistants, you are entitled to infection control packs funded through Coventry City Council. Please call the Carers Trust: 024 76632 972 or visit the Carers Trust Heart of England website.

The packs include:

  • All contained in a reusable bag
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Re-useable face coverings
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Hand wash
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • 6-sided Pen pot with information
  • Fridge magnet with handwashing guidance
  • Cut out badges explaining that the person carrying the bag is exempt from wearing a face covering.
  • Access to YouTube video on infections, how they spread and three key things to do to help, hand washing (with demo), catch it, kill it, bin it advice and the wearing of a face covering

COVID-19 testing for personal assistant and carers

PAs in England who are directly employed by an individual (or self-employed) who provides care that requires them to come within 2 metres of an adult over the age of 18 who they support, can access weekly COVID-19 testing. There has been a policy change for personal assistants who are now being asked to conduct two Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) a week and not to test with PCR tests unless to use for a confirmatory PCR following a positive LFT.

Covid-19 vaccinations for personal assistants

All frontline health and social care workers should have been contacted to invite them to make a booking for the Covid-19 vaccination including all Personal Assistants (PAs). If personal assistants have not received the details to make the booking, please contact the Council’s Independent Living team  024 7527 0960 or [email protected].

Flu vaccinations for personal assistants

All frontline health and social care workers should get the winter flu vaccination - including all Personal Assistants (PAs).

Adult Social Care and charging during COVID-19

If you are an adult in receipt of a direct payment you need to continue to pay your charge (assessed contribution) into your direct payment bank account or prepaid card if you continued to receive care and support, pay for a service or pay personal assistants, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you have not been receiving support from a care agency, day centre or other provider you can stop paying your assessed contribution into your direct payment bank account or prepaid card during this period. If you have continued to pay this into the account, you will be able to recoup this at a later date when the account has been monitored by the Independent Living Team.

If you have a managed account with Penderels Trust you can stop paying your invoice for your assessed contribution if you have not been paying personal assistants a retainer or receiving a service from your provider due to COVID-19.

If you would like to discuss this further or you require further advice, please contact the Council Independent Living Team on 024 7527 0960 or [email protected].

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