Coronavirus advice and support

This information is your primary source of advice during COVID-19. You should still get employment support from your Insurance company however if their advice differs from below please contact Independent Lives.

Your Direct Payments Information and Advice team:

Until further notice, so that we can continue to support you as best we can, the Information and Advice line will only be open from 9.00am - 4.30pm with all advisers working remotely. If you are unable to get through to an adviser, please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible.

Please do not select to go through to another department as they will be unable to provide the information and advice you require.

The Payroll Team

Please note, if you use our payroll service, your team are working some of their hours in the evenings and weekends to ensure the service runs as smoothly as possible in these challenging times. They may therefor, not be able to answer the phone like you would normally expect during the day. The best thing for you to do is email [email protected] to provide your hours. Phone messages will be checked daily.

This will be reviewed weekly, and as soon as we are able to resume normal service we will.

Planning Ahead

  • Consider whether you will be able to arrange care to keep yourself safe. Your usual services or Personal Assistants be available? What will happen if not? If you need help with this, contact Independent Lives or your named worker or relevant team.
  • Make sure your contact details, other key information and your support plan is up to date so that any new carers have the information they need.
  • Keep a log of any spending that is different to your usual support plan, including receipts – you may need this to explain spending once the pandemic and immediate measures are over.
  • Make sure you know how to access latest guidance e.g. for PPE. See below for useful guidance.

National COVID-19 testing approach for PAs

The Coronavirus National Testing Programme has now expanded capacity to test other front line workers who are having to self-isolate due to having coronavirus-like symptoms or because a member of their household has symptoms.

This expansion includes all personal assistants across both health and social care, who meet the criteria set out above.

More detailed information on the types of workers who may now be eligible for testing can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-get-tested

Any of your PAs who think they are eligible and need to be tested are being instructed to speak to you as their employer first. If your PA is eligible for testing, you, as the employer, will need to complete a ‘Confirmation of employment and eligibility for testing-letter of ID’, and forward this, along with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation, to your PA. Your PA will then be able to register themselves for a test at the link provided within the invitation.

The document and PowerPoint can be downloaded below:

Confirmation of employment and eligibility for testing-letter of ID

COVID-19 - testing for PAs presentation

If you have any queries about completing this document, or have any other questions, please contact us at [email protected]

Information on how to keep safe

How do I protect myself or people I support from Coronavirus?

The government has published new adult social care guidance to protect the most vulnerable against COVID-19.

The news story is available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-adult-social-care-guidance-to-protect-the-most-vulnerable-against-covid-19

What is Shielding?

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.

We are strongly advising people with serious underlying health conditions which put them at very high risk of severe illness from Coronavirus (COVID-19) to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.

More information, including which groups are classified as very high risk, here.

Personal Protective Equipment

New COVID-19 guidance on residential care, supported living and home care is also available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance

Please note in particular the sections on 'what to do when a resident or someone you are supporting has COVID-19' and the following website has useful information on how to manage hygiene https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/primary-care/infection-control/

The latest government guidance on PPE can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control/covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

If due to current guidelines your PAs are required to use FFP3 type masks, as part of your responsibility to provide the correct PPE as an employer, it is vital that a fit test is completed before these are issued. This is to ensure the mask is effective in protecting the PA. Fit tests for all Independent Lives customers can be arranged by the employer through Adele King at Continuing Healthcare, email [email protected], telephone number 07880144927, or [email protected], 07901518345. If you have any questions around the requirement to use this type of mask, you should contact your healthcare professional.

Where can I get personal protective equipment (PPE)?

Personal assistants are critical front-line key workers delivering personal care to vulnerable people. The new Public Health England guidance updated on 12 April 2020, now makes it more important that PA’s are accessing the right PPE.

Due to demand for PPE nationally, you may find it difficult to source appropriate PPE in the market and the supply chains are very stretched. Please see below for a list of suppliers we are aware of. If your PAs are providing care in circumstances described in the PHE guidance that recommends the use of PPE, and as an employer you have been unable to source what you need or your stocks are running critically low, then please contact us [email protected] in the first instance.

When you contact us we will ask you about your situation, your need for PPE and if you meet the criteria for support. If a supply of PPE is available then delivery will be made directly to the address of the person you support and will usually occur within 24 to 48 hours from the time that the request is made.

You can find a general guide to PPE on our website: https://www.independentlives.org/covid-19-ppe

PPE Suppliers - please note we cannot guarantee they have stock & prices are rather expensive:

Dementia Signs: https://www.dementiasigns.co.uk/covid-19/

Nexon Hygiene: https://www.nexonhygiene.co.uk/personal-protection-c5/covid-19-c2217

 

National COVID-19 testing approach for personal assistants

The Coronavirus National Testing Programme has now expanded capacity to test other frontline workers who are having to self-isolate due to having coronavirus-like symptoms or because a member of their household has symptoms.

This expansion includes all personal assistants across both health and social care, who meet the criteria set out above.

More detailed information on the types of workers who may now be eligible for testing can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-get-tested

Any of your PAs who think they are eligible and need to be tested are being instructed to speak to you as their employer first. If your PA is eligible for testing, you, as the employer, will need to complete a ‘Confirmation of employment and eligibility for testing-letter of ID’, and forward this, along with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation, to your PA. Your PA will then be able to register themselves for a test at the link provided within the invitation.

The document and PowerPoint can be found on our website.

Confirmation of employment and eligibility for testing-letter of ID: https://tknk.io/sH3Z

COVID-19 - testing for PAs presentation:
https://tknk.io/LXK7

If you have any queries about completing this document, or have any other questions, please contact us at [email protected]

Employment Information

Are Personal Assistants key workers?

We now have confirmation that personal assistants (PAs) are included in the definition of a Health and Social Care key worker. This means they should be able to benefit from all temporary schemes open to key workers including continuing access to schools where relevant.

If being challenged they might need to carry a copy of their contract of employment and Job description, and or a letter from the employer. If you would like to see an example letter please call us. Government guidance says that front line workers do not need to carry an ID badge.

I don’t want my PA to come to work

If you feel it is safer for you that your Personal Assistants to not come to work (a period of lay off) for example you are shielding, high risk, or are in a high-risk household, and believe you can manage without the need for care from your PA as this care is replaced by someone in your family unit, then you should continue to pay your PA.

My Personal Assistant has symptoms or is shielding

If your Personal Assistant lets you know they have symptoms, as described by the government guidelines, a cough or temperature requiring them to self-isolate, or they are at risk themselves due an underlying health condition (click here for more information), if they earn above the Lower Earnings Limit (on average £120 per week over the past 8 weeks) then statutory sick pay would apply from day one.

www.gov.uk/guidance/rates-and-thresholds-for-employers-2020-to-2021#statutory-sick-pay-ssp

The statutory sick pay (general) (Coronavirus amendment) regulations 2020 came into force on Friday 13th March. SSP will now be payable to those self-isolating merely under Government guidance - no need for formal written notice to be given by medical officer as we have previously been advising. Definition of 'Persons deemed incapable of work' now includes:

(i) isolating himself from other people in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination with Coronavirus disease, in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland(d) or Public Health Wales(e) and effective on 12th March 2020; and

 (ii) by reason of that isolation is unable to work.

Note: this amendment is set to automatically expire 8 months unless otherwise removed by statute.

If they do not quality for SSP please sign post them to this link for possible financial support i.e. Universal Support or Employment Support.

Allowance: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses

My Personal Assistant becomes ill at work

If your Personal Assistant becomes ill at work, you should send them home for 7 days from the onset of symptoms. If you would be unsafe without assistance and are unable to get anyone else to provide it, you and the Personal Assistant may decide that care should be continued in the short term ensuring use of PPE and social distancing. You should document this and the reasons you made this decision.

My Personal Assistant won’t self-isolate and I think they should

If your Personal Assistant is showing symptoms of COVID-19, or has told you that members of their household have symptoms but proposes to continue working, contact Independent Lives or your named worker/relevant social care team for support in enforcing government Guidance.

My Personal Assistance is in the very vulnerable (shielded) group but wants to continue working – can I allow this?

Yes, you can. The Government have made recommendations for high-risk individuals to stay at home, but it is not mandatory.

If your employee continues to attend work, it would be wise to increase your hygiene and health and safety procedures so you are doing everything you can to prevent the risk of spreading infection between you. Make a written record of steps you have taken to protect each other.

Should I be asking my Personal Assistant to work from home?

If your Personal assistant undertakes support for you that can be done without direct contact, or where direct contact can be reduced) e.g. meal preparation or social or emotional support) and your Personal Assistant are confident that you will be adequately supported, you can agree to home working. You should record the reason for this and that this is for the duration of the current situation.

My Personal Assistant cannot work due to childcare

If your Personal Assistant’s children are unable to go to school or usual child care, they can apply for a reasonable amount of unpaid dependent’s leave to care for children.

They may also be able to take unpaid parental leave (up to four weeks per year per child) or you could ask to take annual leave.

Please see: www.gov.uk/parental-leave

My Personal Assistant is stranded abroad

If your Personal assistant is stranded abroad because their borders are locked down, the Personal Assistant would not be paid as they have not turned up for work. If as an employer you are happy to extend their annual leave then this could be an option. There are no disciplinary aspects to this.

The government has completed a guide for employees or you could contact ACAS if you would like some independent advice or your Insurance Company.

www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

There has been a website page set up called ‘Coronaheroes’ set up 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 PA’s . There are webinars on employment, contingency planning, accessing care - all of the webinar recordings can be found at www.be-human.org.uk/coronaheroes  

Can I employ a temporary PA?

This may be a way of ensuring you get the care you need.  The Home Office and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have put temporary arrangements in place to provide DBS checks and fast-track emergency checks of the adults’ and children’s barred lists free-of-charge to PAs being recruited in connection with the care and treatment of COVID 19.

These arrangements will provide employers with the option to appoint new PAs to support adults and/or children, as long as the new PA is not barred and appropriate measures are put in place to manage the individual until the full DBS check is received.

If you wish to employ a close family member as a temporary PA, or if the planned temporary arrangements would cost more than your current Direct Payment, you must contact your named worker or relevant social care team.