Coronavirus direct payments guidance

In response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation, we have put together some guidance and answers to frequently asked questions for people using direct payments in Herefordshire.

Please check the government's regularly updated guidance for people using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak for the most recent information and changes. It has frequently asked questions and answers about the use of your direct payment during this time, PPE, testing, training and employment related queries.

For more information about using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak visit the government's guidance on the most important things to know about using direct payments during the coronavirus.

For NHS advice visit the NHS Covid-19 pages for the very latest information.

Your direct payment support service will remain open and will continue to provide employment support, payroll and managed account services.

If your personal assistant or agency are unable to provide your care and support as normal and you have explored the options available to you, please contact the advice and referral team. They can take details from you to pass to a social care professional, who will work with you to explore possible alternatives and options for replacement care. Call 01432 260101 or email ASCAdviceandReferralTeam@herefordshire.gov.uk

Please contact your payroll or employment support provider about any changes to your responsibilities due to the impact of coronavirus, such as queries about pay or sick pay.

Remember that you can contact your liability insurance provider or ACAS, who will also be able to provide advice.

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading

Our general advice is that it is good practice to:

  • Keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure within the household
  • Make sure contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date for everyone in the household
  • Consider extra precautions for PAs who might be more vulnerable, for example if someone is pregnant, aged 70 or over, or has a pre-existing health condition
  • Make sure everyone knows how to spot symptoms of coronavirus and is clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case your PA shows symptoms of the virus
  • Make sure there are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap, and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly as this is one of the best ways we can prevent spreading the infection
  • If possible provide hand sanitiser and tissues for your PA and encourage them to use them
  • Keep up to date with the latest government coronavirus advice
  • Detailed information and advice for the public about what they, and their family contacts, should do can be found on the NHS website (and will be regularly updated). There is some very important detail in the Stay at Home guidance, including at what point people are able to come out of self-isolation

Developing a contingency plan

It is likely that you will already have a plan in place, to ensure your needs can continue to be met if there is a risk of care breaking down, and that you will have covered this in your personalised care and support plan.

We recommend that you review your contingency plan so that you are prepared if any paid or unpaid care arrangements should break down because of Covid-19.

The government has developed a template contingency plan at annex A that you may wish to use.

Things you may want to consider including within this plan are:

  • If you employ PAs - think about and discuss possible options if your PAs cannot work in their usual way. For example longer shift patterns or additional hours. Your direct payment support provider will be able to help you make sure that you are acting legally with any changes that you intend to make
  • Who else can support you to keep safe, such as extended family and friends, if they are willing and able, and what information, advice or training they may need to do this
  • What possible additional training or support there is for existing staff. This does not necessarily have to be through face-to-face training - it could be through learning from other staff, or learning on the internet

Precautions and prevention

The following actions can help prevent the spread of coronavirus:

  • Promote regular handwashing with soap and water among staff and clients. Use alcohol sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if handwashing facilities are not available
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands.
  • People who feel unwell should stay at home and should not attend work
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Cleaning and waste disposal

When cleaning you should use your usual household products, like detergents and bleach, as these will be very effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces.

  • Clean frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, handrails, remote controls and tabletops. This is particularly important if you have a clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable person in the house
  • Clean a shared bathroom each time you use it, for example, by wiping the surfaces you have touched
  • Store personal waste (such as used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths securely within disposable rubbish bags. Place these bags into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. Put aside this waste for at least 72 hours before you put it in your usual external household waste bin
  • Immobile clients who are self-isolating need to have a supply of tissues and a bin or disposable bag to hand at all times for disposal of tissues

Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.

Laundry for those self-isolating

If you or your family deal with laundry:

  • Don't shake dirty laundry. This minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air
  • Wash items as appropriate, in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions
  • Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people's items
  • Dispose of items heavily soiled with body fluids, for example, vomit or diarrhoea, or items that cannot be washed

Accessing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) supplies

The government has announced that it will continue to support the adult social care sector by providing access to free PPE until the end of March 2023. If you receive a direct payment that is funded by Herefordshire Council and you have been getting supplies through the council, please note the contact details for ordering and collecting PPE have changed. To order PPE please email PPEdistribution@herefordshire.gov.uk with your requirements. You will be provided with collection details when you place your order. PPE will be only be available for collection from the store on a Thursday.

Information about using the correct PPE

PPE is only effective if it used correctly. Public Health England has produced a number of resources that explain how PPE can be safely used to minimise the spread of infection. View the government guidance on using PPE.

Useful sources of training for your PA

E-Learning Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare (HEE e-LfH) has created an e-learning programme in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic that is free to access, without logging in, for the entire UK health and care workforce. This includes those working in the NHS, the independent sector and social care. The programme includes key materials to help the health and care workforce respond to coronavirus. You can also find information about other training for PAs on their website, including training that may be available through the Workforce Development Fund.