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Supporting health and social care providers in Devon

Personal assistants and direct payments

Last Updated 9:07am, 31 August 2021


Key COVID-19 information sources

If you have any specific issues or questions that you would like to raise please do so as follows:

Direct payments guidance

National guidance for people receiving Direct Payments.

Exemption from contact isolation - Direct Payments recipients and their PAs

The government has announced a scheme by which frontline health and care staff can work rather than self-isolate if certain conditions are met.
Guidance can be found here: management of staff and exposed patients and residents in health and social care settings.

A regional framework has been developed by Directors of Public Health to operationalise this guidance and adopted by Devon County Council in consultation with providers of adult social care. You can find this framework on the PEN website. It applies to frontline adult social care staff working to deliver essential regulated and unregulated care and support to people whose wellbeing would be adversely impacted if the service couldn’t be provided. This risk assessment should only be used in exceptional circumstances e.g. where care and support cannot be delivered safely. The form will help to support you in making decisions about whether you should isolate or continue to provide care when told to self-isolate via the NHS App or NHS Test and Trace.
Only Risk Assessments recording ‘Yes’ to all questions regarding risk and mitigation should proceed to an exemption to self-isolation within the terms of the scheme. We have adapted the form so it can be used by individual employers / Direct Payments recipients and their PAs. However, if an individual employer or a PA, needs any help and support in this matter, they should contact their Home Employment / Employer’s Liability Insurance provider for more support. In most cases, these specialist insurance providers for individual employers operate a 24/7 HR/Employment law helpline for their customers and remain up to date with changing COVD-19 related guidance for Direct Payments recipients.

PA and Micro-provider WhatsApp group

It’s still a challenging time in social care and we are all trying to support each other to care for vulnerable individuals.

Devon County Council is setting up a number of WhatsApp groups to help PAs and Micro-providers to support each other and the people they care for.

If you would like to be part of a mutual support and networking group, please look at the geographical zones below and tell us which group or groups you would like to be part of.

We envisage that the groups will be primarily to gain support around COVID-19 related issues, such as finding up to date guidance and changes in working practices, but also making contact with other PAs who might be able to help out and provide care in an emergency.

We are also making contact with local voluntary and community sector organisations to see if they would like to be part of the WhatsApp groups, as they can often help provide support to vulnerable people in a crisis.

Please use the list below to tell us which of the three groups (you can join more than one) you would like to join and send it to us: socialcarebusinessrelations-mailbox@devon.gov.uk. We’ll need your full name and a mobile number.

WhatsApp groups Market towns
Zones 1 & 2 – Northern WhatsApp group Bideford, Northam, Holsworthy, Great Torrington, Ilfracombe, Braunton, Barnstaple, South Molton, Lynton/ Lynmouth
Zones 3, 4 & 5 – Eastern WhatsApp group Cullompton, Tiverton, Crediton, Exeter, Sidmouth, Honiton, Ottery, Seaton, Axminster, Exmouth
Zones 6,7 & 8 – Southern WhatsApp group Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Newton Abbot, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Totnes, Dartmouth, Tavistock, Kingsbridge, Ivybridge, Okehampton, Mortenhampstead

When you make your request to join the WhatsApp group, please ensure you have downloaded the WhatsApp application onto your mobile first.

Providing care and support at home to people who have had COVID-19

This quick guide will help home care workers and personal assistants to provide care and support to people who have left hospital after having COVID-19.

Advice and support for self-employed PAs

New and updated government guidance on self-employed income support scheme, published on 17 August 2020.
Relevant to self-employed people, or members of a partnership, providing care and support services to DP recipients, self-funders, and to support for the PA market.

Decide if your business has been adversely affected for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
Find out if your business has been adversely affected due to coronavirus (COVID-19), examples and what records you need to keep if you make a claim.

Check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
If you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) find out if you can use this scheme to claim a grant.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme claim service is now open.

How different circumstances affect the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
If you’re self-employed or member of a partnership find out how your circumstances can affect your eligibility for the scheme.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme claim service is now open.

Claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
If you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) use this scheme if you’re eligible to claim the grant.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme claim service is now open.

Direct payments and personal assistants COVID-19 vaccinations FAQs

Q1. Are PAs eligible for a vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccinations have started being delivered to front line social care staff across Devon as part of the national vaccination programme and in line with priority 2 of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance.

This JCVI priority list is as follows:

  1. residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  2. all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
  3. all those 75 years of age and over
  4. all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
  5. all those 65 years of age and over
  6. all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
  7. all those 60 years of age and over
  8. all those 55 years of age and over
  9. all those 50 years of age and over

It is estimated that taken together, these groups represent around 99% of preventable mortality from COVID-19.

Q2. How do they get access to the vaccine?

For us to ensure all Personal Assistants in Devon receive their vaccination as part of priority group 2, we need to identify who is supporting each service user.

Direct Payments recipients will need to supply Devon County Council with information about their PA so they can access the vaccine.

Direct Payments recipients should speak with their PA before completing this form as they may not wish to receive the vaccination. If they have any queries, your PA can email us using the vaccination mailbox: MassVac-CareProvision@devon.gov.uk

Q3. What arrangements should I make to facilitate this?

Please talk to your PA about when they are likely to receive their first vaccination. You may need to make alternative arrangements during this time if you need help with anything.

Ideally, you will have already made some arrangements for unforeseen absence of your PA in your contingency plan.

Once we receive their information, we will contact your Personal Assistant and allocate a vaccination slot to them.

Q4. What if my PA does not want to be vaccinated?

Many Individual Employers have already asked ‘What if my PA does not want to be vaccinated?’ What the implications if a PA refuses to be vaccinated? Can employers insist upon it and what are the consequences if they do?

If you have any Human Resources or employment law questions regarding vaccinations and your PA, you should contact your Employer’s Liability Insurance (ELI) provider, who, in most cases, will offer a HR/employment law helpline to advise and support you with this issue.

It is strongly advised that you contact your ELI provider before having any conversations with your PA which may have contractual or employment law implications.

Mark Bates Ltd have provided information and advice about vaccines for PAs.

If you have insurance with FISH, they use a company called Peninsula as their provider of Employment Law and Health & Safety advice. You can read the blog here.

Q5. Where else can I go for help and support about vaccination?

There are several organisations who offer support with a range of COVID-19 related issues such as vaccinations.

Both the Skills for Care and Think Local Act Personal websites have a range of resources and information for Individual Employers about COVID-19 and more general advice.

Testing for personal assistants

Following The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) review of testing for personal assistants and consultation with the sector, DHSC are pleased to announce that testing for personal assistants has moved to twice weekly rapid Lateral Flow Testing (LFT), with confirmatory PCR tests for a positive test. Further information can be found on the Government’s website.

Staff are also able to access tests via the Devon County Community Testing page.

Personal Assistant testing guidance

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and PAs

PAs should use PPE when providing direct care. Direct care is defined as caring activities that take place within 2 metres and examples include:

  • washing
  • toileting
  • dressing
  • oral care and feeding
  • assistance with medication
  • walking and getting up/going to bed

PPE provides some measure of protection against infection, injury, or risks to health and safety. PPE cannot completely eliminate risk. In health and social care, PPE will most commonly be things like gloves, aprons, and facemasks.

Details of what type of PPE should be used can be found in our guide for staff working within local authority, education, community and social care settings. Personal Assistants should refer to Table A for scenarios a. to k. Please note that this is a live document so may change.

Those people who are most at risk of either being infected or transmitting infection will be more likely to be in need of PPE.
The use of PPE should only be considered as a matter of last resort when other protective measures are insufficient.
PPE does not replace good hygiene and most people will be able to reduce risk effectively by following the guidance on social distancing, washing hands in the right way, and wiping down hard surfaces.

Cleaning your hands frequently throughout the day by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser will help protect you and the people you live with or need to visit.

This step is one of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of infection for you and other people. This includes when you arrive at the home of the person you care for, if you do not live with them, or have been out.
If you are caring for someone who falls into the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ category for risk of severe illness from COVID-19, there are some simple steps that you can take to protect them and to reduce their risk. Ensure you follow advice on good hygiene and:

  • only provide care that is essential
  • wash your hands when you arrive at the home of the person you care for and often thereafter, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • do not visit if you are unwell and make alternative arrangements for their care
  • provide information on who they should call if they feel unwell, how to use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service and leave the number for NHS 111 prominently displayed

Information about different sources of support that could be used and access to further advice on creating a contingency plan is available from Devon Carers.

General guidance on the use of PPE is available on this part of the PEN website.

New arrangements for access to PPE

We are making some changes from 24 July 2020 relating to the distribution of PPE supplies in Devon.

As a Personal Assistant you will continue to be able to access the PPE you require from DCC if you are unable to source it yourself during normal office hours, the out-of-hours PPE offer will end on 24 July 2020.

Personal Assistants can continue to request PPE using this PPE request form.

Please note: You need to allow at least five days’ notice when submitting a request for PPE.

All local store arrangements for PPE collection will also end on 31 July 2020. Instead, deliveries of PPE supplies will be made direct to your home address.

Please note that this is now a generic form for anyone who might need PPE so it covers services as well as Personal Assistants. Simply complete as much detail as you feel able and do not worry if there are parts you cannot complete; the team that receives the requests will still be able to respond to your request.

If you require PPE urgently for any reason, please indicate that you require it as a matter of urgency giving full details and someone will be in contact as soon as possible to discuss your requirements.

PAs and returning from shielding

Advice on Personal Assistants and returning from shielding has been produced by Mark Bates Ltd and published on the national Think Local Act Personal partnership website.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) guidance

The national guidance for Personal Assistance and Direct Payments recipients explain how to us the CJRS scheme.

If you have coronavirus / coronavirus symptoms

We do require you to inform us by emailing adultsc.adultcarehealthcovid19-mailbox@devon.gov.uk as well as phoning Public Health England via 111.

If the person you provide care for has a direct payment they should speak either to their named care manager or to Care Direct.

If the person has had no contact with the Council and needs advice, they should contact Care Direct 0345 155 1007.

The person may also wish to seek an alternative supplier by reviewing the CQC list of registered providers in their area or seek a provider through Pinpoint.

Get a critical worker letter

The identification of key or ‘critical’ workers during lockdown

How to obtain a ‘critical worker’ letter from Devon County Council


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