Direct payments

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and managing your Direct Payment

The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a serious concern across the country, and we are living in unprecedented times. 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, 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 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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.

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

This new guidance, published on 21 April (updated on 6 July 2020), 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 help slow the transmission of COVID-19.

Read updated information (formerly the Q & A) on using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak, an updated Easy Read Guide to Direct Payments and a useful headline list of 7 things direct payment holders need to know during the outbreak.

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 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.

Penderels Trust

Penderels Trust have 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 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 a replacement care (short breaks or respite), home support and support to access the community between 23 March and 30 June 2020.

Anyone who restarted their personal assistants on or around 1 July 2020 will continue to receive their direct payment from Coventry City Council.

If you are not planning to restart your personal assistants at all, you will need to either make your staff redundant, agree unpaid leave with them or see if they are eligible to still be furloughed.

Personal Assistants cannot normally be furloughed because they are funded by a public funded organisation. However, this could be arranged in exceptional circumstances. Visit Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for more guidance.

Personal assistants that are unfit for work 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.

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.

For general advice on infection control and the appropriate equipment and clothing see Coronavirus: Infection, Prevention and Control.

For more specific advice on the Personal Protective Equipment to use in the community depending on your circumstances see:

For advice and guidance about where to purchase Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), read the letter from DHSC to councils about their responsibilities in ensuring DP holders and PAs have access to the PPE supplies they need or you can contact Penderels Trust on 024 7651 1611 or visit them at: https://www.penderelstrust.org.uk or the Independent Living team on 024 7527 0960 or at [email protected].

However, if you have tried all of the suppliers listed, you can register with ‘The National Supply Disruption Line’ to obtain PPE Tel: 0800 915 9964 or email them at [email protected]. You will need to be clear on the amount of each item that you require.

You can pay for PPE from excess funds in your direct payment or prepaid card account.

If you are an adult or support an adult to manage a direct payment and you do not have enough funds in your account, please contact Adult Social Care Direct on 024 7683 3003 or the Council Independent Living Team on 024 7527 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 and you do not have enough funds in your account, please contact 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]

COVID-19 testing for personal assistant and carers

The Coronavirus National Testing Programme includes all personal care assistants (PAs), across both health and social care, who are having to self-isolate due to having coronavirus-like symptoms or because a member of their household has symptoms.

Further information about the programme, can be found on Skills for Care’s webpages on COVID-19 pages for individual employers.

Flu Vaccinations for Personal Assistants

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, 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, as attached.

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

  1.  Here is the PA letter for printing
  2. The Direct Payment holder, as employer, will fill out this letter, to prove they employ the PA. Once the PA has this, 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 and a copy of this guidance (when published)
  4. The vaccination will then be given to them, free of charge.

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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