If your carer or PA is already self-isolating and you do not have an emergency plan, either:
contact them about getting replacement care and how they can support you to do this (if they’re not sick)
contact your local authority, clinical commissioning group (CCG), social care team or support worker for help
Your local authority or CCG should help you find or pay for replacement care. They may ask you to get family or friends to support you for free. Legally you can refuse and your local authority should still provide care support.
If you organise and pay for your own care but need support because of coronavirus, you can still contact your local authority for help.
Volunteer groups and charity support
There are volunteer groups set up to help people during coronavirus. Many will get shopping and medication for you and deliver it to your door.
You can also buy ready meals for delivery if you cannot cook. These often only need heating in the microwave. You may be able to find local organisations that cook and deliver meals for people who need them.
Changes to the Care Act during coronavirus should not affect your usual direct payment. But your local authority or CCG should be flexible so you can use it to get replacement care and stay safe.
If you can, arrange with your social care team or named worker how you might use your payments in an emergency. Making a plan means you’ve already agreed any changes you might need because of coronavirus.
If you do not have a plan, tell your social care team or named worker as soon as you can. Try to agree changes before you make them, especially if:
the temporary care costs more than your current direct payment
you want to employ a close family member or someone you live with as a temporary PA
You’re not usually allowed to use direct payments to employ a close family member or someone you live with. But the government is encouraging local authorities to be flexible with this rule because of coronavirus.
Warning Being a paid carer can affect their benefits
Getting paid for care support work can affect income-based benefits (means-tested). If the person you want to pay is on benefits, they should:
find out how this income affects their benefits
get benefits advice before agreeing to employment
Getting a temporary PA or carer
The Home Office and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have made temporary changes to provide criminal record checks faster. This should help make it easier to recruit a PA or carer during coronavirus.
If you use a care agency, they should provide replacement carers. If they cannot do this, ask them how they plan to continue your care during this time. Agree an action plan with time scales to make sure they meet your needs.
If your agency cannot give you replacement care and you use direct payments, contact your named worker or social care team. They should help you find a different agency or a temporary PA.
Only local authorities on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) list are currently using easements. The CQC regularly updates this list. If your care support has changed, check if your local authority is on the list.
If you are worried about your risk or safety, you can still complain to your local authority. If your complaint is not being dealt with, you can complain to your social worker or the head of social services. If there’s high risk or a safeguarding problem, they must take action.
You can still use an advocate to help if you want to complain or challenge your local authority’s decision about your care.
If you’re not happy with the local authority’s response to your complaint, you may be able to get help from The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. The ombudsman investigates complaints about councils and public services in England. Make sure you give them all the information you feel that they need to know.
If your local authority is failing to meet your needs, you may be able to challenge this legally. But you should get legal advice from a community care solicitor first. They can tell you if you can get legal support and what to do next. You can do this before or after making a complaint.