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Coronavirus advice for Direct Payment Employers

We want to provide you with up to date advice and guidance relevant to you that has been issued by the UK and Welsh governments and by Public Health Wales.  

The UK and Welsh Governments have advised that from 23rd March 2020, everyone now needs to stay at home and that they can only go out for:

  • Food and essential supplies
  • For health reasons
  • For work where this cannot be done at home (eg. Health and Social Care Key Workers)

Please click here for the full guidance. As providers of key social care services, Personal Assistants are included in the definition of a Health and Social Care key worker. They may need to obtain proof from their employer, Diverse Cymru or local authority if this is challenged by schools or other authorities.

DP employers and Personal Assistants:

The government has published new adult social care guidance to protect the most vulnerable against COVID-19. The new guidance covers a variety of scenarios relating to care homes, staff, and providers who care for people in their own homes to ensure older people and those with pre-existing conditions and care needs who receive support are best protected. This guidance can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-residential-care-supported-living-and-home-care-guidance

Shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19

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.

If a Personal Assistant is concerned they may have COVID-19

If a Personal Assistant is concerned they have COVID-19 they should follow the NHS advice.

If they are advised to self-isolate at home they should follow Covid 19 stay at home guidance

If advised to self-isolate at home, they should not visit or care for individuals until safe to do so.

In line with current guidance a supply of PPE is being distributed for use in social care in Wales. 

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

There is understandable concern about the level of PPE required for social care staff who are providing direct care to people suspected or confirmed as having novel coronavirus (COVID-19) according to the current definition for community cases, either living in their own homes, or in care homes. 

Guidelines on PPE use for social care

It is important that all staff use the correct PPE, when providing direct care to anyone with respiratory symptoms that could be due to COVID-19, including high fever and a persistent cough.

If neither the care worker nor the individual receiving care and support is symptomatic, then no personal protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices.

Any PPE equipment used must only be used in conjunction with national guidance as per attached annex A and the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual that Wales has adopted http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/95007  

Local authorities are working with the NHS to ensure the availability of a limited amount of PPE including:

  • Gloves
  • Aprons
  • Face Masks
  • Reusable Eye Protection

Please note that the following Local Authorities have agreed that the cost of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be reimbursed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Please follow the below guidelines in order to have the costs reimbursed to you.  In all instances, receipts must be kept as proof of purchase.    

Carmarthenshire

PPE costs can be claimed from your Direct Payments Account.  If you manage the account yourself, you may transfer the amount from your Direct Payment account in to your personal account.  Please note that when you are completing the Income & Expenditure records to Carmarthenshire County Council that you mark on the returns sheet ‘reimbursement of PPE due to COVID-19’.  If you have a Managed Account, please inform your ILA of the cost that is due to you and inform them of the account details that you wish the cost to be reimbursed to. You will also need to ensure that receipts / proof of purchase are posted to the Carmarthen office. Once received, your ILA will then arrange for this amount to be transferred to your nominated account. 

Pembrokeshire

PPE costs can be claimed from your Direct Payments Account.  If you manage the account yourself, you may transfer the amount from your Direct Payment account in to your personal account.  Please note that when you are completing the Income & Expenditure records to Pembrokeshire County Council that you mark on the returns sheet ‘reimbursement of PPE due to COVID-19  If you have a Managed Account, please inform your ILA of the cost that is due to you and inform them of the account details that you wish the cost to be reimbursed to. You will also need to ensure that receipts / proof of purchase are posted to the Carmarthen office. Once received, your ILA will then arrange for this amount to be transferred to your nominated account. 

Ceredigion

PPE can be claimed direct from the Local Authority.  You will need to provide, invoices, your full name and postal address and your bank details including sort code.  Please send all information either by email to dssfinance@ceredigion.gov.uk or by post to Sara Jones, Finance Department, Canolfan Rheidiol, Rhodfa Padarn, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth, SY23 3UE.  Should you require any further information do not hesitate to contactnSara on 01545 572608 or email dssfinance@ceredigion.gov.uk.

Bridgend

Within Bridgend it is the requirement of the employer to obtain PPE in the first instance, however if PPE stock cannot be sourced Bridgend Council currently have arrangements in place whereby the Local Authority can be approached for urgent assistance however emergency PPE stock is only available for Personal Assistants who are providing direct care to people suspected (symptomatic) or confirmed (diagnosed) as having COVID-19.

Limited quantities of PPE stock will be available for care providers – these include:

o             Gloves

o             Aprons

o             Face Masks

o             Reusable Eye Protection

If Personal Assistants require emergency PPE then please contact Diverse Cymru directly who will act on behalf of PA’s in collating and coordinating any requests for emergency PPE. Diverse Cymru will request the PPE stock from Bridgend Council and will then be responsible for allocating to individual Personal Assistants.  

PPE is a really valuable and scarce commodity during these difficult times and therefore there is no guarantee that all requests received can be accommodated for.

As expected there is currently a high demand for PPE globally.  The following sites are suggestions of where you could possibly procure PPE, but please note that these are only suggestions and we are unable to guarantee that they will have the required supplies in stock. 

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • justgloves.co.uk
  • lightinthebox.com

It is important that all staff use the correct PPE, when providing direct care to anyone with respiratory symptoms that could be due to COVID-19, including high fever and a persistent cough.  If neither the care worker nor the individual receiving care and support is symptomatic, then no personal protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices.

Employment of Personal Assistants

If under government guidance your PA is required to self-isolate – follow this link for how long for.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

If your Personal Assistant lets you know they have symptoms described by the government guidelines, a cough or temperature requiring them to self-isolate, and earn above the LEL then statutory sick pay would apply from day one. 

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

If they do not qualify 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

The statutory sick pay (general) (coronavirus amendment) regulations 2020 came into force 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 themselves 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 from today’s date unless otherwise removed by statute.

Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire Personal Assistant Payments:

If as a Direct Payment employer you decide that the support your Personal Assistant normally provides is deemed non-essential or family are able to provide this support in the interim then the Personal Assistant will be entitled to receive their normal weekly contracted hours. Even if your PA is not attending your home, this does not mean that they are unable to support you; there are a number of ways that support can be given including, but not restricted to:

  • Regular telephone contact
  • Contact via video calling using platforms such as WhatsApp; Facebook calling, Facetime, Skype or Zoom.
  • Online gaming; perhaps playing a game of chess or scrabble, as well as other online games that may be available.
  • Undertaking a learning activity together via an online provider
  • Support with shopping
  • Meal preparation, where the PA can provide you with ready-made meals that just need re-heating.

The government has completed a guide for employees or you could contact ACAS if you would like some independent advice:

https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

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

If you require any further queries regarding Personal Assistant payments please contact your Independent Advisor directly or alternatively the Cardiff or Carmarthenshire offices on the below numbers.

Cardiff Office contact number: 02920 368888

Carmarthenshire Office contact number: 01267 245579