Personal Assistants (PAs) now have access to twice weekly rapid Lateral Flow Testing (LFT), with confirmatory PCR testing for a positive test.
PAs are advised to order rapid LFT kits from the universal testing portal. The current PCR testing portal for PAs will soon be closed on the 26th of April.
Full information about testing for PAs can be found here: Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for personal assistants – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Please join DHSC weekly interactive webinar where you can ask any questions and access previous recordings.
Key advantages of moving to the LFT universal offer:
-Rapid tests in your own home, twice a week, with results in 30 minutes.
-Much shorter digital journey for both ordering and registering tests.
-Either order a box of 7 kits every 21 days for home delivery or collect 14 kits from convenient local sites including pharmacies.
-Simple testing technology effective at finding people with no symptoms who but are still infectious and can give the virus to others. Further information about lateral flow testing can be found here: Understanding lateral flow antigen testing for people without symptoms – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
How to access tests
Rapid lateral flow tests (LFT) are available for home delivery, for collection at participating pharmacies and local sites, or individuals can be tested at local asymptomatic test sites. PAs should access these tests through any of these routes and test twice weekly (every 3-4 days), as close as possible to starting work. Therefore, staff ordering tests for home delivery should order a box of seven tests every 21 days.
These tests are only for people without symptoms. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test online or by calling 119.
PAs will need to register their positive, negative or void results online or by calling 119. If a PA tests positive with an LFT they must:
-order a confirmatory PCR test
-inform their individual employer.
Personal assistants are eligible for their Covid-19 vaccination as frontline health and social care workers if any person they providing care and support to is clinically vulnerable to Covid-19.
From 19th April PAs can once again use the national booking service to book their vaccine.
Please use the following booking link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/
PAs will need their NHS number to complete the booking.
PAs will need to take with them a copy of the eligibility letter from their Local Authority or a letter confirming their employment along with some photo ID.
Please click the following link for the FAQ: Final 6.0 Q & A LG 12022021
Disability North Payroll customers can contact us for a letter of confirmation for their PAs. Email email@example.com
If you cannot access an appointment via this route, or do not have an eligibility letter for your vaccination, then please contact your local authority vaccination lead.
Infection Prevention and Control
We know that the Coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on Direct Payment employers; as well as managing your own anxiety of keeping you or the person you support safe and well, you are also managing Personal Assistants (PAs).
PPE Easing Restrictions
Can my PA refuse to wear a mask when Government social distancing guidelines relax
in England on 19th July?
During the pandemic the Government laid down both legal rules and
some guidelines as to when individuals should wear masks, social
distance and not attend work. The government has relaxed these rules
in England from 19th July 2021 meaning employers are no longer
under an obligation to ensure social distancing is applied.
For more information, please click on the following link:
Our Direct Payments Service Team at Disability North have compiled the following information which will be updated on a regular basis.
In the first instance, if you have any questions regarding the employment of your PAs during this time you should call the advice line connected to your insurance.
For policies with Mark Bates LtD/Premier Care Insurance, the MSL legal advice line number is 0161 6032167
For policies with Fish Insurance, the Peninsula legal advice line number is 0161 836 9456
Click here for further useful advice from these insurers: Coronavirus Absence Options, Managing Coronavirus Issues at Work – A Guide for Individual Employers , Guide for Self Employed Service Providers in Home Care
ACAS is another source of information: www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
Skills for Care provide useful guidance to support the adult social care sector during this challenging time: www.skillsforcare.org.uk/About/News/COVID-19
Additionally, Skills for Care have produced a useful list of frequently asked questions for individuals in receipt of a personal budget from health or social care. The current version can be found here but please do check the Skills for Care dedicated Covid-19 page as it is a live document that will be regularly updated.
Official Guidance from the Government relating to people receiving direct payments can be found here.
Public Health England has made these recommendations regarding Personal protective equipment (PPE) for primary, outpatient and community care by setting, NHS and independent sector.
A dedicated Coronaheroes page hosted be Be Human features useful links, practical tips and ideas that people who manage their direct payments have put in place for themselves and their PA’s during this challenging time.
Steve Broach conducted a webinar concerning Accessing Care during the Coronavirus Crisis. The informative webinar can now be viewed on You Tube by clicking here.
For information about the Coronavirus National Testing Programme and testing personal assistants please go to http://www.disabilitynorth.org.uk/coronavirus-virus-our-response-guidance/personal-assitants-as-key-workers/
Employer Update Information
We thought it would be useful to pass on some of the key messages being sent out from Local Authorities, and Public health. We are also updating our website and sharing via our Facebook and Twitter platforms. We are living through ever changing times!
Important updates on Personal Protective Equipment and Infection Control for Individual Employers of Personal Assistants
If you are employing a Personal Assistant for your support and care needs it is increasingly important that you ensure all infection prevention and control measures remain in place and that PAs comply fully with them. It is also really important that you and your employees are up to date with the latest Public Health Guidance on reducing the transmission of the virus, which was updated on Monday 21st September. If you do become aware of confirmed or suspected cases in your PAs, it is crucial that you report this via the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) form so that our local Public Health team can work with you to take swift action to prevent the virus from spreading. You can access the SPOC form here.
Public Health England Guidance can be found here for advice on PPE in community and social care settings.
The insurance company Mark Bates (Premier) has recently released some helpful guidance for anyone who has PAs returning from shielding or employers who have started to bring PAs back to work. This is particularly useful as we begin to move into the winter and cases locally are beginning to rise. So even if you have had PAs working all the way through the pandemic it is worth revisiting your risk assessment and discussing with PAs. A copy of the risk assessment can be downloaded here and you can also download this one that was developed by Disability Sheffield click here. You should discuss this with your PAs.
You will also need to keep a track of any visitors or staff within the home and Mark Bates have produced this handy worker/visitor tracker for you to use. You can access it here.
Free Flu injection
Did you know that PAs can now access a free flu jab?
You can download a letter of entitlement for PAs to receive a free flu vaccine by downloading the following link: PA flu vaccination letter
For the government’s guidance go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flu-immunisation-for-social-care-staff/flu-vaccination-guidance-for-social-care-workers
Return from Shielding
Please download the following for information about returning from shielding: MBL_return from shielding_Covid-19
Antibody Testing – Personal Assistants
Antibody testing is now available across England and is being provided free of charge to anyone employed in adult social care. Personal assistants who provide for the care and support needs of adults are eligible, as are staff working in residential care, domiciliary care, extra care, supported living, and local authority adult social care departments.
What does the test do?
The antibody test is a voluntary blood test which detects antibodies to the COVID-19 virus to see if you have previously had the virus.
This test does not tell you if you currently have COVID-19. If you currently have symptoms or have been advised to take a COVID-19 test, please follow this link https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test and please do not take an antibody test at this time.
Why take the test?
Results of the antibody test will support academic research studies across the UK that will help us better understand COVID-19 and how it has spread.
What does the test tell me?
An antibody test result can only tell you whether or not you have had the virus in the past and developed antibodies.
Our understanding of the body’s immune response to the virus is limited, and we do not currently know how long an antibody response lasts, nor whether having antibodies means a person cannot transmit the virus to others. Therefore, regardless of the result of an antibody test, individuals must continue to comply with government guidelines, including wearing PPE and social distancing.
How do I take the test?
To sign up for an antibody test, you will need to register on the online portal below.
You may already have seen that antibody testing is available for adult social care staff through local NHS sites. We are now also launching a new at-home antibody test which provides an additional route to access an antibody test, giving you greater flexibility and choice. You should only take one version of the test.
Please do not take a test if you currently have symptoms of COVID-19.
Protect yourself and others from the virus
Regardless of your antibody test result you must continue to follow the same guidelines as everyone else to protect yourself and others from the virus. For example:
- wash your hands often
- follow social distancing and PPE advice
- follow any local lockdown restrictions in your area
- self-isolate and get tested if you (or someone you live with) get symptoms, or you are advised to by NHS Test and Trace
Last but not least please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. Payroll, Benefits Advice Advice and Community Care are all still available to answer your questions.
If you have any questions please contact Vici Richardson on 0191 2840480 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We will keep you updated if there are any changes to the situation that may impact Disability North’s Direct Payment customers.
The Disability North Direct Payment Support Service Team can be contacted on 0191 284 0480 or email@example.com
If you feel you are in a situation where your support is at risk, then please contact Social Services. Contact details and opening hours are as follows:
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm
Phone: 0191 2788377
Mobile: 0796 8474891
In an emergency out of office hours contact the Emergency Duty Team:
Helpline outside normal hours: 0191 278 7878
Report abuse or neglect: 0191 278 8156
Children with Disabilities Team: 0191 2774700
Personal Health Budget Packages: 0191 2236503
Click here for further advice from Newcastle City Council.
Newcastle Safeguarding Adults Board have produced information on ‘‘safeguarding adults for people self-isolating’.
Please continue to check the Disability North website and our social media pages for updates.