Coronavirus information for personal assistants (PAs)

This page provides guidance on COVID-19 for personal assistants. Please check this page regularly for the latest updates and also read the COVID-19 updates for providers page.

Page updated: 28 July 2020

Enquiries

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

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Non-registered services including personal assistants are encouraged to continue to use existing suppliers for PPE.

Emergency supplies

There are three options for accessing emergency personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies:

  • Make a request for East Sussex County Council supplies: complete the PPE proforma and email it to PPErequest@eastsussex.gov.uk.

If ESCC cannot meet your needs then:

  • non-registered services including personal assistants can contact the Mutual aid hub. Email: sussexmutualaid@nhs.net

Please note that local supplies are extremely limited and are reducing fast. They must only be used when all other options have been exhausted.

Infection control

To prevent the spread of Covid-19, please follow this infection prevention guidance:

  • Guidance on correct hand cleansing techniques when using hand wash and hand sanitiser - hand hygiene.

COVID-19 testing for personal assistants

The NHS is increasing the capacity for COVID-19 testing, including setting up local testing sites.

Personal assistants will be eligible for testing based on the following criteria:

  • they are self-isolating and mildly symptomatic (symptoms started less than five days ago); or
  • they are self-isolating because a member of their household has developed COVID-19 symptoms in the last 5 days; and
  • they do not have caring responsibilities for the unwell person and could return to work; and
  • they are not a vulnerable member of staff shielding for 12 weeks.

How to book a test

The council will manage the booking process for individuals. Find out more in our leaflet:

If you think you are eligible for testing or have any queries, please contact 01273 482 536 or email Covid19StaffTesting@eastsussex.gov.uk.

NHS survey

The NHS has an online survey for you to take if you suspect you have COVID-19. There is guidance as to what action you should take pending the outcome of your survey questions.

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

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.

When to use personal protective equipment (PPE)

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.

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.

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

If you can no longer provide care

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

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 this 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, to help them protect both your client and those who are helping to deliver care.

If the client is self-isolating

If your client is self-isolating because they / anyone else in their household has symptoms, please read this guidance:

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, if necessary.

There are visiting restrictions in place for hospitals. These differ depending on the ward or or site:

Direct payments

The government has published guidance about Coronavirus for people receiving direct payments.

Skills for Care have also produced a useful guide for people and families who employ personal assistants.

Training

All face-to-face training courses have been cancelled due to social distancing. We hope to offer these again in November, depending on the situation.

New 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.

Financial support

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The government scheme to help self-employed individuals whose business has been adversely affected by COVID-19 has been extended. If you were eligible for the first grant and can confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020, you’ll be able to make a claim for a second and final grant from 17 August 2020.

You can check if you are eligible and apply for the scheme on the government website.

Other help you can get