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Using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak: the most important things to know

Applies to: England

This guidance sets out the 7 most important things that direct payments holders, local authorities (LAs), clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), and those who provide care and support, including personal assistants, should know during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

There’s more information in the full guidance for people receiving direct payments and personal assistants.

1. Direct payments should continue as before

They should not be stopped as a result of COVID-19.

Direct payments are still as important as any other type of care and support.

LAs and CCGs must make every effort to ensure that people’s budgets and direct payments are maintained and supported.

2. Open communication is very important

LAs and CCGs should communicate with all direct payment holders to ensure they stay safe and are assured about the LA or CCG’s concern for their wellbeing.

Direct payment holders should have a point of contact at their LA or CCG who can support and advise them when needed.

3. The government expects direct payments to be used as flexibly as possible to manage any issues arising from COVID-19

This is very important so that people can stay safe and receive the care and support they need.

Where necessary, for example in an emergency or when it’s time-critical, this may result in a varied care and support plan that is put into action without direct approval from the LA or CCG.

Receipts should be kept, and LAs and CCGs should be informed how the direct payment has been used during that time.

See examples of how direct payments have been used more flexibly during this time in the full guidance.

4. All personal care assistants are considered key workers

This means they’re eligible for things like care for their children at local schools, and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Personal care assistants should also be able to support individuals when accessing supermarkets.

5. Everybody with symptoms, including unpaid carers and personal care assistants, can get a test

This includes home tests, delivered to their door.

Unpaid carers and personal care assistants are essential workers and can register for a test on GOV.UK.

6. All direct payment holders can self-refer for testing if they’re displaying symptoms

A test can be requested on NHS.UK.

In some circumstances, direct payment holders without symptoms will also be tested to inform any clinical diagnosis.

7. Anybody providing direct payment holders with care and support must get the PPE they need

This is essential. Where there are difficulties in getting this locally, even if it’s in somebody’s personalised care and support plan, LAs and CCGs must help individuals to source PPE, including if the PA is self-employed.

In general, the steps to take are:

1. Individuals should speak to their normal supplier to order PPE (if they have one)

If the individual’s PA normally uses PPE and the individuals usually get this from a supplier, they should firstly try to use this supplier to get the required PPE.

2. If it is not possible to get PPE in this way, individuals should speak to any organisations that help support them with their direct payment (if they have any)

For example, if the individual’s direct payment is supported or managed by an organisation that is not the LA or CCG, the individual should speak to them. They may be able to help the individual to get the PPE they need, locally.

3. If the individual cannot get PPE in this way, they should speak to their LA or CCG who has access to national supplies of PPE and will get this for them

If individuals who are funding their own care cannot access PPE themselves, they should also talk to their local LA or CCG who can get this for them.

Further information

There’s more information on each of the points above in the full direct payment guidance.

If the issue or concern you have is not covered in this guidance, you can email pa.framework@skillsforcare.org.uk. Skills for Care will consider them for future versions of this guidance.