COVID-19 updates for adult social care and health providers

10. COVID-19 guidance for Personal Assistants

(Last updated: 23 March 2021)

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

Vaccinations for Personal Assistants

Priority groups

Priority groups for vaccinations have been agreed nationally. Personal Assistants are eligible to be vaccinated in priority group 2 as frontline health and social care workers.

How to book a vaccination PAs

There are vaccination slots available for staff working in health and social care in East Sussex at:

  • Conquest Hospital
  • Eastbourne District General Hospital

You should have received an email from the Vaccination Team explaining how to book an appointment. If not, you can request this directly by emailing: VaccinationsQueries@eastsussex.gov.uk

You are advised to:

  • Book an appointment
  • Attend with your NHS number and staff/work ID or eligibility letter*
  • Bring a face mask or covering and wear a coat as you should expect to queue outside

*Staff without a work ID badge or card should take an eligibility letter to their appointment. Please email the Vaccination Team to request a vaccination eligibility letter: VaccinationsQueries@eastsussex.gov.uk

IMPORTANT: These booking slots are only for people who work in health and social care.

Once you’ve had the vaccine, there is still a chance you might get or spread coronavirus. It’s vital to keep following the restrictions and rules about social distancing and face coverings, even if you have had the vaccine.

Further advice about vaccination

If you have any questions, use the links below in the first instance:

If you cannot find the answer to your question using these links, please email: VaccinationsQueries@eastsussex.gov.uk

COVID-19 testing for Personal Assistants

Weekly testing if you do not have symptoms

Weekly symptom free COVID-19 testing is now available to personal assistants who provide care and support (either employed or self-employed) to an adult over the age of 18. This care could include support in the home, or to go out into the community.

Personal assistants will be responsible for ordering tests themselves, or an individual employer can order test kits on their behalf. Test kits can be ordered every 28 days and you should order four tests each time (you will not be able to order more tests for 14 days after placing an order).

For more information on the testing process when you do not have symptoms, please see this Personal Assistants Guide to testing from the NHS Test and Trace Team.

The NHS have also provided this set of Powerpoint slides on testing for Personal Assistants that detail the complete process, outlining the key must dos.

Find out more about testing and order your testing kits at: Coronavirus testing for personal assistants – GOV.UK.

There is a comprehensive guide on Personal Assistant testing on the Government website.

There have been a significant number of instances where only one test kit has been ordered per order, rather than four.

The key steps to ensure four PCR test kits are ordered are:

  1. Visit the Government website ′Get a Coronavirus Test’.
  2. Select ‘I’m a Personal Assistant in England employed by an individual to provide home based adult care and support’
  3. Enter the occupation as ‘carer or home carer’
  4. Click ‘Add person you live with’ and enter the personal assistant’s details again. This step needs to be repeated 3 times so that a total of 4 test kits are ordered at the same time.

Go to the dedicated page for Personal Assistants on our website for more information.

Regular testing of people without symptoms is a useful way to identify positive cases and reduce the risk of onward transmission but it does not replace the need to use PPE and follow COVID safe working practices.

How to book a test if you have symptoms

The council will manage the booking process for PAs who have symptoms of coronavirus.

If you have symptoms or you 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:

Personal Assistant Infection Control Advisory Project

From January 2021 we are running a Personal Assistant Infection Control Advisory Project. This is a 12-month project to support the Personal Assistant workforce in East Sussex.

The pandemic has highlighted how the unregulated social care sector can be inadvertently marginalised from receiving direct support and guidance from national government. To address this, we are allocating a proportion of national funds we received for infection control to this project.

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

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 COVID-19 measures

The Infection Control service is available from Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm 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 our mailing list, which will be used to provide information about infection control and COVID-19.

Support With Confidence PAs do not need to sign up as we already have your details on record.

Please email PAIPCProtectCovid19@eastsussex.gov.uk with your contact details: name, address, email address, telephone contact, employment status (if self-employed /employed) and geographical area of work.

To find out more about how your information will be used, please read our Privacy Notice.

Financial support

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 your clients will be left without the vital support they need, you must report this immediately to Health and Social Care Connect.

Personal assistants and individual employers should have contingency plans to ensure that alternative cover arrangements can be put in place immediately. See: Coronavirus – information for people receiving direct payments for more details.

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.

A useful illustrated guide has been produced on what to PPE to wear and when.

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.

PPE grant for employers

The 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 disposed of 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 a disposable rubbish bag. Place the bag into another bag, tie it securely and keep it separate from other waste. Put it aside for at least 72 hours before disposing of it in the household waste bin.

Cleaning and laundry

Cleaning products 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. See guidance on laundry

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 must help your client to follow the government guidance on social distancing at all times.

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.

Flu vaccine information for PAs

Guidance specially for PAs, including why and when to have a jab and a letter template for employed PAs to use is available on GOV.UK.

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

A letter of support for key workers is available to help you access supermarkets and other essential shops. The letter also states that as a key worker, you are eligible for a free flu vaccination.

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

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.

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.

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