Guidance for people receiving direct payments, their families and PAs

The government has produced an updated version of their advice document entitled “Using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak: full guidance for people receiving direct payments and personal assistants”. It’s a long and detailed document, so we’ve only included the introduction and a section which explains who the document is aimed at. To read the full document, please visit the Government’s website.

Introduction

  1. A priority for this government is that everybody receives the care and support they need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This applies as equally to people who receive their care and support through direct payments, as it does to people who receive care and support in other ways. For direct payment holders, we know that direct payments can enable you to have more choice and control over your care and support needs so that you can put in place the care and support that works for you, and allows you to achieve the goals you want to achieve.
  2. We recognise that during this time, direct payments can bring their own unique challenges. For example, if you previously used your direct payment to join community classes, this might not be possible at the moment. Similarly, if you usually use your direct payment to employ personal assistants (PAs), you may be experiencing changes- for example, if you or your PA has COVID-19 symptoms. We understand that this can be a difficult and uncertain time.
  3. That is why we want to use this document to set out, clearly, what you should expect. There is nothing in the Coronavirus Act or the Care Act easements guidance which suggests that direct payments could be stopped – instead there should be greater levels of flexibility, to ensure you continue to receive the care and support you need to keep safe. To achieve this, there should be discussion between yourself and local authorities (LAs) and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to make sure you receive the support you need during the COVID-19 outbreak. Your safety, and those who provide care and support to you, is vital. That is why you should be able to access the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing for those who provide care and support for you.
  4. Overall, during the COVID-19 outbreak, there is absolutely no reason why your direct payment should not continue to meet your care and support needs in the best way for you and the goals you want to achieve. The key messages in the direct payment guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic are:

a. Your direct payments should continue as before. These remain as important as other types of provision, and LAs and CCGs should make every effort to ensure that your budget and payment are maintained and supported.

b. LAs and CCGs should communicate with you to ensure you stay safe and are assured about the LA/CCG’s concern for your wellbeing.

c. The government expects LAs, CCGs and direct payment holders to adopt and enable the most flexible possible use of your direct payment to manage any issues arising from COVID-19. In emergency or time-critical circumstances, you have the flexibility to use your payment in a way that ensures you safely receive the care and support you require. This could mean a variation in your agreed care and support plan which does not require immediate sign-off from the LA or CCG, on the basis that it’s the right thing to do so you stay safe and receive the care and support you need during this time.

d. The government consider all PAs to be key workers, meaning they are eligible for provisions such as care for their children at local schools and PPE.

e. Everybody with symptoms – including PAs, unpaid carers and yourself – is eligible for testing. This includes home tests, delivered to your door if that is what you would like. In some cases people without COVID-19 symptoms will also be tested, to inform any clinical diagnosis.

f. Accessing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for people who support you is essential. Where there are difficulties in getting hold of the appropriate PPE, LAs and CCGs will help you source this.

g. You can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough those you employ where necessary, but it’s important that you keep employing people who provide you with care and support where possible, and safe to do so. Examples and case studies on appropriate and inappropriate use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be found alongside this guidance.

Who this document for

This document is aimed at people of all ages ‒ children, young people and adults ‒ who receive support through their personal budgets or personal health budgets and take this as a direct payment. It’s also relevant to family members, local authorities (LAs), clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), providers and people who are employed through a direct payment, including PAs (including those who are self-employed).

It sets out key messages to support people in planning and receiving their care safely during the pandemic, including slowing the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and reducing the possibility of hospital admission or care breaking down.

It takes account of the latest advice issued by government, including the Care Act easements guidance. It also takes into account the ethical framework for adult social care. This framework provides support to councils’ ongoing response planning and decision-making during the pandemic to ensure that consideration is given to a set of ethical values and principles when organising and delivering social care for adults.

This document has been developed by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) based on questions and concerns raised by members of the public. Contributions to the document have also been made by a number of government departments, organisations and charities, including Think Local Act Personal (TLAP), In-Control, Skills for Care, Local Government Association staff (LGA), ADASS staff, NHS England and NHS Improvement, including the Personalised Care Strategic Co-production Group, and the National Co-production Advisory Group (NCAG).

This document will be updated to take into account any new relevant guidance published, and also to respond to any new issues or concerns raised by members of the public. For any concerns or questions that are not answered in this guidance (or other published guidance), please email these to pa.framework@skillsforcare.org.uk. These will be considered for future versions of this document.

This document should be read alongside the guidance for commissioners, people receiving direct payments and care providers.

You may also wish to read this document alongside TLAP’s jargon buster a directory of plain English definitions of commonly used words and phrases in health and social care.

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