COVID-19 updates for adult social care and health providers

9. Personal Assistants

(This page last updated 18 January)

This page provides guidance on COVID-19 for Personal Assistants (PAs).

If you have any concerns about the clients you support, please contact Adult Social Care.

If you’re a PA with a question about COVID-19 related to your work, please email: ascpersonalisation@eastsussex.gov.uk

New: Covid-19 testing for Homecare workers and PAs

The government guidance was updated on 6 January 2021. In summary:

NHS Test and Trace is making weekly COVID-19 testing available to all homecare workers in England. CQC registered organisations will be contacted with details of how to apply for test kits for their homecare staff.

As an interim arrangement, PAs can access PCR testing at one of the local testing sites available in the County, as they meet the criteria of “Essential workers and those prioritised for testing”.

  • When booking on the national portal to access a test, a PA can tick that they are an essential worker.
  • When they subsequently tick that they do not have symptoms, the following screen will ask why they are asking for a test and it is here that they can tick the option: My local council or health protection team has asked me (or someone I live with) to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms.

We will continue to keep you updated on any changes to this in the coming weeks. It is important to note that regular asymptomatic testing is a useful approach to try and identify positive cases and reduce the risk of onward transmission however it does not replace the need for appropriate use of PPE and adherence to all Covid safe working practices.

If you have symptoms, please contact 01273 482 536 or email Covid19StaffTesting@eastsussex.gov.uk

New: Personal Assistant Infection Control Advisory Project

From January 2021 East Sussex County Council (ESCC) Public Health department will run a Personal Assistant Infection Control Advisory Project. This is a 12-month project which will support the social care Personal Assistant workforce in East Sussex.

The Covid-19 pandemic outbreak has highlighted how the unregulated social care sector can be inadvertently marginalised from receiving direct support and guidance from national government. East Sussex County Council Adult Social Care has responded by allocating a proportion of the national Infection Control Fund to support the Personal Assistant workforce in relation to COVID-19 infection control.

The project will support Personal Assistants to help manage a constantly changing situation which has an impact on everyday social care practice and task interventions.

This support will include:

  • A dedicated email inbox, to answer enquiries from PAs about infection control measures or Covid-19 concerns and provide direct support around changing national guidelines
  • Providing advice sessions and risk assessment consultations with a dedicated Public Health Infection Control Advisor, who can provide direct advice to support over the phone or virtually through the use of video calling
  • Developing an infection control information and training toolkit (online resources, e-learning, workbooks, videos) for PAs to enhance their knowledge and awareness of best practice in infection control
  • Expanding the Infection Control training program currently offered by the ASC training team and ensure it is an accessible resource directly supporting the PA market
  • Arranging virtual workshop events for PAs to attend and participate, to learn more about infection control and Covid19 measures

Please note, the Infection Control service is available from Monday to Thursday 9:00am -5:00pm and Fridays until 4:30pm.

For any enquiries please contact the Project Team PAIPCProtectCovid19@eastsussex.gov.uk

Action: Join the council’s PA database and mailing list

Personal Assistants are invited to join the East Sussex County Council’s list, which will be used to provide information about infection control and Covid-19.

Please note that Support With Confidence Personal Assistants do not need to sign up to this new database and mailing list as we already have your details on record.

Please contact PAIPCProtectCovid19@eastsussex.gov.uk providing your contact details: name, address, email address, telephone contact, geographical area of work.

To find out more about how your information will be used, please read the Privacy Notice for the database published on the ESCC website.

Symptoms of COVID-19

  • high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

How to book a test

The council will manage the booking process for symptomatic individuals.

If you have any of the symptoms above or have any queries, please contact 01273 482 536 or email Covid19StaffTesting@eastsussex.gov.uk.

The government has produced guidance for members of the public and professionals:

Contingency Planning

If you have to stop providing care for any reason and your service is essential to the client, you must ensure suitable contingency plans are put in place.

If contingency plans cannot be implemented and your clients are left without the vital support they need, you must report this immediately to Health and Social Care Connect.

If you receive a direct payment and are being supported by a Personal Assistant, you should develop a care contingency plan with your Personal Assistant to cover circumstances such as your Personal Assistant needing to self isolate.

For further guidance on creating a contingency plan please visit: Coronavirus – information for people receiving direct payments

Should I continue providing care?

If you have symptoms

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are advised to self-isolate at home, you should not visit or care for individuals until it is safe to do so. You should follow the Stay at home guidance.

If the person you are caring for has symptoms

If the individual you are providing care and support for has symptoms of COVID-19 then you should minimise the risk through safe working practices by using personal protective equipment and disposing of it safely.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection control

If you are providing care which brings you into direct contact with someone, such as through washing and bathing, personal hygiene and contact with bodily fluids then you should always use PPE. Plastic aprons, fluid-repellent surgical masks, gloves and eye protection (if there’s a risk of droplets or secretions) are recommended.

See the PPE page for information about personal protective equipment and infection control.

To help communicate PPE requirements, there is an illustrated guide for community and social care settings.

Follow hand hygiene guidance on correct cleansing techniques when using hand wash and hand sanitiser.

New gloves and aprons must usually be used for each episode of care. Further details on use of PPE is in the How to work safely in domiciliary care guidance.

East Sussex PPE Grants

Self-employed Personal Assistants

East Sussex County Council is providing self-employed Personal Assistants with additional money to support them with the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE).

A £300 PPE grant is available to cover PPE costs up to the end of March 2021.

If you wish to apply (the deadline for applications is 31st January 2021) please visit:

Infection Control Fund Phase 2: Pre-grant statement – Personal Assistants and Support with Confidence members

Employers of Personal Assistants

East Sussex County Council is providing financial support to help employers of Personal Assistants pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) using their direct payments.

A £300 PPE grant is available to cover PPE costs up to the end of March 2021.

For further information on how to access these grants, see: Coronavirus – information for people receiving direct payments

Disposal of waste and PPE

It’s essential that PPE is stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. If this PPE has come into contact with an individual with symptoms of COVID-19, then these bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. It should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual household waste bin. If the individual does not have COVID-19 symptoms, waste can be disposed of as normal.

Personal waste (for example used tissues, continence pads and other items soiled with bodily fluids) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual household waste bin for disposal as normal.

Cleaning and laundry

Cleaning products such as detergents and bleach should be used and are very effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces. Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned regularly.

Do not shake laundry before washing. All dirty laundry can be washed in the same load.

There are specific rules around use of a launderette. See guidance on laundry and waste disposal

Providing home care

When delivering support and care services to people in their own homes, follow the government guidance on provision of home care.

Social distancing

You need to ensure that you help your client to follow the governments updated guidance on social distancing at all times.

Many people are also being supported by their family, friends and neighbours. Please share this guidance with your client’s family if they need it, to help them protect both your client and those who are helping to deliver care.

Attending hospitals

Personal assistants can accompany their employers to appointments, to help with their communication and/or to meet their health or social care needs.

Hospital visiting restrictions are in place. These differ depending on the ward or or site:

Employing PAs Toolkit – Easy Read

Skills for Care has introduced new easy read versions of its Employing Personal Assistants toolkit which can be accessed on the information hub. The toolkit has advice and guidance for employers of PAs and includes templates, resources about recruiting, training and managing a team.

Flu immunisation information for PAs

The government have guidance specially for PAs that includes, why and when to have a jab and a letter template for employed PA’s to use. This is available on the governments website.

Letter of support for key workers – free flu vaccination and essential shops access

In light of the current Covid-19 related restrictions in England, a prepared letter of support for key workers is available to help them access supermarkets and other essential shops. The letter also states that as a key worker, the individual is eligible for a free flu vaccination.

To access the letter we will follow a similar process to that when we issued a letter in March:

  • The letter template will be sent directly to providers of services commissioned by Adult Social Care.
  • A tailored letter will be sent directly to Personal Assistants who are members of the East Sussex County Council Support with Confidence scheme.

If you/your organisation would like to receive the letter template email: ASCPersonalisation@eastsussex.gov.uk

Financial support

Self-employment Income Support Scheme – extended

This government scheme to help self-employed individuals whose business has been adversely affected by COVID-19 is being extended for six months, from November 2020 to April 2021.

If you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) find out if you can use this scheme to claim a grant.

Check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Other help you can get

Direct payments

Specific advice about Coronavirus for people receiving direct payments is available on our Coronavirus direct payments web page.

This includes guidance on:

  • putting contingency plans in place, for example if a Personal Assistant needed to self-isolate
  • how a PA or their employer can apply for a grant to help pay for personal protective equipment (PPE)

Adult social care training

All face-to-face training courses have been cancelled due to social distancing.

New Support with Confidence applicants and members approved since COVID: We’ll continue to offer fast track learning. Once restrictions are lifted we advise you to attend courses on Moving and handling, Emergency First Aid at work and a PA course (likely to be half day). This is to ensure you are compliant with Support with Confidence standards.

Current members: You can update your training online. Email renee.jasper-griffiths@eastsussex.gov.uk for advice on how to access this.

Other training

See the Training page for details of other useful courses.

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