Direct payments and impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19)

Direct payments and impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19)

What impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) may have on direct payments, what to do if you have a personal assistant (PA), how you can use direct payments to buy personal protection equipment and to prioritise essential tasks, and testing for PAs.

Call Bristol Care Direct on 0117 922 2700 if your Personal Assistant can't support you or meet your care needs due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and you don’t have any other support network which means you have no care today or tonight.

Easy Read Direct Payments (money for care and support) during coronavirus (GOV.UK)

Direct payments funding pay dates

We’ll make sure that your payments are still paid on your regular payment dates.

Direct payments support provided by WECIL or People Plus

Both organisations will continue to offer telephone and email support.  

For more information you can:

Your personal assistant (PA) and parking

Personal Assistants as care workers can apply for a Covid-19 Parking Concession digital parking permit.

To apply visit free parking for NHS staff and care workers.

Your personal assistant (PA) and self-isolation

If your PA can’t work

Self-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. It's important to stay at home and self-isolate if you are displaying symptoms.

Advice about staying at home on the NHS website

If your Personal Assistant tells you they have symptoms of COVID-19 as described on NHS website, they should stay home or you can send them home. If they earn above the Lower Employment Limit (LEL) statutory sick pay would apply from day one.

If they don’t qualify, they can check GOV.UK to see if they can get financial support in the form Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance.

The statutory sick pay (SSP) regulations 2020 (coronavirus amendment) came into force Friday 13 March. SSP will now be payable to those self-isolating merely under Government guidance so there’s no need for formal written notice to be given by a medical officer. 

If you feel it’s safer for your PA to self-isolate, even though they haven’t displayed any symptoms, you’ll need to pay them if they’re on contracted hours.

If your PA doesn’t want to come to work without showing symptoms

If your PA chooses not to work and there’s no identified high risk then no pay other than authorised annual leave will be given as this is an unauthorised absence.

If your PA has children who need to stay at home

PAs are considered to be key workers. This means your PA’s children is eligible continue to attend school if they can’t be safely cared for at home. 

The PA will need to contact the school for more information.   

If your PA can work

If your PA can work, they should carry on fulfilling their duties.

You and your PA must take any new rules on health and safety procedures very seriously and implement them based on government guidance. This is for their protection and to prevent the spread of infection to other people.

Using Direct Payments to buy additional personal protection equipment or prioritise essential tasks at home

Personal protection equipment (PPE) can be:

  • gloves
  • masks
  • sanitiser gel
  • aprons

Normally the employer must ensure their employees are adequately protected but with PPE in short supply, we request that Direct Payments recipients contact their support agencies WECIL and People Plus who will inform Bristol City Council.  The Council will arrange appropriate PPE to be distributed.

You can also check the Public Health guidance on how to use PPE effectively.

If you need to stay home because of self-isolation, you can use Direct Payment funding in a more flexible way to prioritise essential tasks like:

  • personal hygiene
  • hygienic cleaning
  • clothes washing
  • food preparation

COVID-19 testing for personal assistants

Personal Assistants (PAs) are key workers and are currently eligible for testing if they have symptoms.

Your PA can apply for a test on GOV.UK. The test is available for key workers (your PA) who currently have symptoms of COVID-19, or who live with someone who has symptoms. If this criteria changes, this will be updated on the government website.  There is a testing facility at Bristol airport with a capacity of 700 tests per day.

After the test your PA will receive a text or phone call with their results.  You can ask your PA to:

  • let you know when they are having the test
  • the result when they receive it