Coronavirus: advice if you use direct payments for social care


Who is this guidance for?

This guidance is for anyone who receives direct payments to pay for their social care.

The government and local authorities have taken steps to help slow the spread of coronavirus. But they want services that are paid for by direct payments to continue to support you.

This information is based on the latest government guidance for people who receive direct payments.

The local authority (LA) or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) that provides your direct payments should be contacting you. This is to:

• give you advice on how to continue to get your care and support, and
• how to contact them if you have problems getting care and support.

What are direct payments?

A direct payment is money that social services or your CCG can give to you to pay for the care that you need.

Direct payments were created to give you more flexibility about the social care support that you want and need. You will choose what services you would like instead of letting your LA arrange services for you.

Find out more information about direct payments from the Mental Health and Money Advice service.

What is social distancing and shielding?

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, the government has published advice on:

• Social distancing. Everyone should follow social distancing rules. To read the advice you can click here.
• Shielding. Shielding applies to you if you are extremely vulnerable because you have one of the medical conditions mentioned in the advice. To read the advice you can click here.

Social distancing not only applies to being outdoors but being in your own home and care settings too. People who provide you with care and additional support should stick to social distancing rules as much as possible.

The advice intends to reduce face-to-face social contact with friends and family as much as possible to reduce risk.

Because of social distancing and shielding, the way your personal assistant or carer will support you will change. This is to reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus. Also, they might not be able to support you if they have symptoms or coronavirus, for example. The following advice should help you.

What steps should I take if I employ a personal assistant?

Personal assistants are also known as support workers.

You should:
• Make sure your personal assistant follows advice on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). As a minimum they should wear a single-use, disposable plastic apron, surgical mask and gloves when delivering your personal care.
• Look at your current arrangements that say what will happen if your personal assistant can’t care for you. Think about if they are still suitable, in case your assistant can’t care for you because they are having to self-isolate, for example.
• Think about if you could link to other personal assistant employers, for mutual support. If you receive other paid for support, could this be increased if necessary?
• Think about if agencies or other personal assistants can offer back up options.
• Make sure that details about how you like your care and support to be given are up to date. This is so it can be shared with care staff who may not be familiar to you. Make sure you include any time- and day-specific needs. Also make sure important contact details, for things like relatives, are up to date.
• Contact the social services or CCG that provides your direct payments if your personal assistant can’t see you, and you have no other support.

What steps should I take if I buy care and support or other services?

You might be using a direct payment to buy care and support from a service such as a home care agency. If you are you should:

• Discuss what the agency will do if your usual carer can’t see you.
• Make sure you have an up to date care plan. Including details of any important appointments you need support to go to.
• If you buy any other types of support, discuss this with the provider if you think there will be issues during the coronavirus crisis.
• Contact the social services or CCG that provides your direct payments if you can’t get your usual care or support.

My personal assistant or carer can’t support me. Can I pay family members to support me using direct payments?

Your personal assistant or carer might not be able to support you. They might have symptoms of coronavirus, for example.

You might not be able to get another personal assistant or carer to support you.

You might be able to pay a family member to support you using direct payments during the coronavirus crisis. But contact the social services or CCG that provides your direct payments first. They should be flexible about how direct payments are used during this period. This is to make sure you continue to receive your care and support.

What do I do if I have symptoms of coronavirus?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, staff should continue to support you. They should follow their safe working procedures. They should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as plastic aprons, masks, eye protection and gloves. And follow other hygiene procedures.

You and your personal assistant should follow advice on:

• laundry and waste disposal, and
• hand hygiene.

You can read the advice here.

If there are issues with the supply of PPE, you should contact the social services or CCG that provides your direct payments.

Where can I get further advice?

The Department of Health and Social Care has published further advice in the form on the Skills for Care website. This will be updated regularly. You can read the advice here.

This blog will be updated if more information becomes available. Last updated 24.04.20

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