COVID-19 tests for your PA/Carers

The Government have announced that Personal Assistants (who care for an adult over the age of 18) are now able to order regular test kits through the GOV.UK website. Personal Assistants or the individual employer are responsible for ordering test kits.

Personal assistants now have access to twice weekly rapid Lateral Flow Testing (LFT), with confirmatory PCR testing for a positive test. The Government are now encouraging PAs to order rapid LFT kits from the universal testing portal.

Full information about testing for PAs can be found on the Government COVID-19 testing page.

If you have further questions, the Department of Health and Social Care are running a series of webinars in which you can discuss your concerns.

The webinars will last 1 hour and give detailed information about all aspects of testing, including:

  • The ordering, conducting and registering of rapid lateral flow tests
  • Results and next steps
  • General updates and information
  • Support and Resources

The session will also include a Q&A with representatives from the personal assistant testing team, who will be able to answer your questions and address any concerns in the session.

You can sign up for the webinars here.

Key advantages of moving to the LFT universal offer:

  • Rapid tests in your own home, twice a week, with results in 30 minutes
  • Much shorter digital journey for both ordering and registering tests
  • Either order a box of 7 kits every 21 days for home delivery or collect 14 kits from convenient local sites including pharmacies
  • Simple testing technology effective at finding people with no symptoms who but are still infectious and can give the virus to others.

Further information about lateral flow testing can be found here: understanding lateral flow antigen testing for people without symptoms.

How to access tests

Rapid lateral flow tests (LFT) are available for home delivery, for collection at participating pharmacies and local sites, or individuals can be tested at local asymptomatic test sites. PAs should access these tests through any of these routes and test twice weekly (every 3-4 days), as close as possible to starting work. Therefore, staff ordering tests for home delivery should order a box of seven tests every 21 days.

These tests are only for people without symptoms. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test online or by calling 119. PAs will need to register their positive, negative or void results online or by calling 119. If a PA tests positive with an LFT they must:

Flowcharts explaining when your staff can Return to Work following a COVID-19 test

Public Health England have released flowcharts showing the process that your employee must follow in the event that they take a COVID-19 Test. These are below:

Asymptomatic Worker: Flowchart describing return to work following a COVID test

Symptomatic Worker: Flowchart describing return to work following a COVID test

Accessing COVID Vaccines for your PA/Carers

If you're an Independent Lives payroll customer, funded by West Sussex County Council, you should have received a letter from us with information on how your PAs can register to receive a COVID vaccination. If you have not received this yet, please contact us.

Customers funded by Continuing Healthcare have been sent a letter directly from them providing details about PA vaccinations.

Independent Lives can book vaccinations for PAs working in West Sussex through the National Booking Service (link below). 

To book, please call Independent Lives Information & Advice Line on 01903 219 482 ext. 301. Please make sure that you have the mobile phone numbers, date of births, NHS number and postcodes of your PA's on hand before you call. You can book an appointment for your PA yourself or your PA can make the booking themselves. 

Independent Lives can book vaccinations for PAs working in Croydon at the following sites:

  • Croydon University Hospital, 530 London Road, Croydon CR7 7YE
  • Crystal Palace Football Ground, Selhurst Park Stadium, Whitehorse Lane, London, SE25 6PU
  • St.George’s Hospital, Blackshaw Road Tooting London SW17 0QT
  • Hawks Road Health Clinic Vaccination Centre. Hawks Road, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 3EW
  • St Helier Hospital. Wrythe Lane, Sutton, Carshalton, SM5 1AA
  • Epsom General Hospital Post Graduate Centre, 2nd Floor Wells Wing, Dorking Road, Epsom, KT18 7EG
  • South West London & St. George’s Springfield Hospital, 61 Glenburnie Road, Tooting, SW17 7DJ
  • Teddington Health and Social Care Centre (THSCC) 18 Queens Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 0LR

To book, please call Independent Lives Information & Advice Line on 01903 219 482 ext. 301.

You can book an appointment for your PA or your PA can make the booking themselves.

Bookings in Croydon are made through the Swiftqueue system. We will need the following PA information to book an appointment:

  • Email
  • Password (8 Characters, must include upper and lower case and a number
  • First Name
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
  • Gender

Your PAs NHS number and postcode would also be helpful but is not necessary to book an appointment. 

PAs in both West Sussex and Croydon will be asked to provide proof of their role at their vaccination appointment. Please use the letters previously sent to your employer by your Local Council.

If you do not have these, please let us know and we can send them to you.

Calls to our Information & Advice Line are incredibly busy at present, so if you cannot get through to us, you can book vaccine appointments for your PAs through the National Booking Service by using the link below:

This provides an additional option for eligible frontline social care workers like Personal Assistants to access an appointment at a time and place that is convenient for them.

You can access the National Booking Service at the link below:

Please keep an eye on this page for all up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

What to take when you attend your appointment

Do not attend a vaccine centre if you do not have a booked appointment. When attending your appointment please take:

  1. Identification to confirm your status as a health and social care worker. Take your photo staff/work ID. If you do not have photo ID, please bring a payslip and the letters of authorisation Independent Lives sent to you in the post and another form of photo ID, such as your driver’s license or passport.

  2. Your NHS number with you to your appointment if you have it – this will be a numerical 10-digit number. You can still have your vaccination without it but having your number to hand will make your appointment quicker and easier. You can get you NHS number from a prescription, from any letter from your GP or hospital, from Online Services if you use this with your GP, or download and register with the NHS App.
  1. A face mask to wear when you attend your vaccination.

IMPORTANT: If you have tested positive for COVID-19 you will need to wait 28 days from when you had your positive result before receiving a vaccination. If you have had the flu vaccination you must wait 7 days before receiving your COVID-19 vaccination.

Accessing the COVID Vaccine as an unpaid or informal carer

The government have now opened the COVID-19 vaccination programme to those in group 6, which includes adult unpaid carers.

For purposes of the vaccination programme adult carers are defined as those who are eligible for a carer’s allowance, or those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable.

The carers who are eligible include those who provide support for:

  • Children with severe neuro-disabilities
  • Those who are designated Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV)
  • Adults who have underlying health conditions as defined in table 3 of the green book
  • Those who have care needs because of advanced age.

A decision has now been made locally within West Sussex by the Vaccination Board to include all parent carers.

If you’re known as a carer by your GP, in receipt or eligible for carers allowance, or known by your Local Authority - usually as a result of having contact with a social worker and/or having a carers assessment - you will be contacted by the NHS directly. This will either be through the National Booking Service (NBS) or your local GP-led service.

Carers who are eligible for the vaccination, but whose caring status is currently unknown to the Local Authority or their GP, will still be able to access the vaccination and are urged to register with a local carer's organisation who will provide information and support and keep them up to date with plans for carers’ vaccinations. At present, carers’ organisation are receiving a large number of enquiries and working as swiftly as possible to register carers.

If you have specific questions about vaccinations please visit the national vaccination service via the NHS.

In Sussex, for more specific information relating to vaccinations, you can visit the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme website, email [email protected], or call the vaccine enquiry phone line on: 0800 433 4545 (open 9am – 4pm, Monday to Friday).

Can I insist that my PA takes the COVID vaccine?

In the case of PA vaccinations, many individual employers are fearful that their PAs are putting them and often their family at risk by refusing to take the vaccine. Some individual employers are considering disciplinary action or even dismissal.

However, it is unfair in most cases to simply dismiss a PA who is refusing to take the vaccine.

You should talk to your PAs about the vaccine and seek further advice from the provider of your Employer’s Liability Insurance in the event that there’s a difference of opinion on this matter.

In some cases, a mandated vaccination programme might be fair if it can be demonstrated that the vaccine is one of a range of measures being implemented to protect somebody who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but this should not be implemented without seeking advice from your insurer.

According to the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination guide for social care staff, while vaccinated health and social care staff will be less likely to pass on the infection it is not yet clear how much of an impact this will have.

Some vaccinated people could get a mild or asymptomatic infection and therefore still be able to pass the virus on.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) report on priority groups suggests that the vaccine efficacy and any potential impacts on transmission are being monitored by public health England and data will be considered at the earliest opportunity.

It is therefore still too early to draw any firm conclusions beyond a potential reduction in transmission.

For most employers this reduction is not enough to warrant introducing a mandatory vaccination programme or blanket dismissal for refusing to be vaccinated.

Particularly where infection control measures and safe working practices are in place to prevent infection.

Supporting Personal Assistants to take up the vaccination

The Local Government Association has co-ordinated a Q & A: Supporting personal assistants to take up vaccination as part of priority group two - frontline care workers with input from Skills for Care, Think Local, Act Personal, In-control, Disability North, ADASS, DHSC and individual councils. The LGA are also hosting the public-facing LA points of contact list for employers and frontline care workers who need to get in touch to arrange their vaccination. PAs employed via a personal health budget are included within this group.

Those with a severe and profound learning disability are eligible for the vaccine as part of cohort 6 and are an important patient group.

Vaccination of household contacts of those with severe immunosuppression

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recently advised that adult (aged 16 years or over) household contacts of adults with severe immunosuppression should be offered the COVID-19 vaccination alongside priority group 6. This is in response to regular monitoring of data on vaccine effectiveness and impact, which indicates lower protection in vaccinated adults who are immunosuppressed.

This letter and the operational guidance set out further information.

Accessible resources for COVID-19 vaccination

Public Health England have developed a range of resources in accessible formats to help people understand and access vaccination.  The materials are comprised of HTML, large print and braille versions of the core leaflets including:

COVID-19 vaccination – a guide for adults

COVID-19 vaccination – guide for childbearing, pregnant or breastfeeding women

What to expect after your COVID-19 vaccination

All of the leaflets have been translated into 18 languages, Easy Read versions for people with a learning disability as well as BSL videos .

Audio versions are in the production process and should be available soon. 

You can order paper copies of all of the leaflets, and download the files for audio or video from our Health Publications website here. You just need to register; the service is free. 

Warning over COVID-19 vaccination scams

Please be on your guard against fake COVID-19 vaccination appointment text and email messages. People are receiving a text or email notification of their ‘vaccination appointment’ and are being asked to confirm it by clicking on a link. This looks very similar to the genuine texts being sent to patients to arrange their appointments at the GP led vaccination services.

The COVID-19 vaccination is ONLY available from the NHS and it is FREE – you will never be asked to pay for it or give your bank details.