Coronavirus: information and updates

Care support during coronavirus

You may find that your carer or personal assistant (PA) has to:

There are a few things you can do to get replacement care or other types of support.

Create an emergency plan

If you can, work with your carer, PA or care agency to create an emergency plan. This might include:

  • getting a care agency to cover for your PA or carer
  • asking your other PAs or carers to pick up shifts
  • getting carers who used to work for you to come back temporarily
  • asking friends and family to help out
  • checking if there are volunteers or community groups that could help with tasks, like shopping or cooking

Planning for emergencies (Carers UK)

Carer's emergency planning form pdf (Action for Carers)

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for carers and PAs

If you do not have an emergency plan

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.

Finding volunteers to buy and deliver food and essentials safely

Getting food and essentials

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.

Where to buy ready meal deliveries

You could also search for disability grants or charities to help you get the replacement care you need.

Search for grants

Direct payments

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.

Using direct payments during coronavirus (GOV.UK)

Coronavirus and care support (Independent Lives)

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.

Find homecare services (NHS)

Search for carer services near you (carer.org)

National homecare providers (NHS)

Recruiting a personal assistant (PA)

Care agencies

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.

Find a homecare agency (UK Homecare Association)

If the local authority has stopped or reduced your care support

The government has urged local authorities to do everything they can to continue to meet their social care duties.

If they cannot, in England they can make changes called ‘easements’ under the Coronavirus Act. This may mean reducing their usual duties, such as new assessments. 

To make changes they must meet specific criteria and follow a process. They must:

  • share their plans openly and provide an official record of the decision with you, carers and other providers
  • make this information accessible to you

If the local authority cannot show that they meet the criteria for easements, they must continue providing your care support as usual.

Care Act easements (GOV.UK)

Check if your local authority is using easements

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.

The Care Act easements and local authorities using them (CQC)

Warning Local authorities not using easements must still provide your care

Unless they give you an official record of the decision, they must provide the care support in your plan.

If your care support has changed but your local authority is not using easements, contact your social care team about getting replacement care.

If your local authority uses the easements 

If your local authority does use the easements, you may lose some of your care support. This will depend on:

  • your circumstances and support plan
  • if reducing or taking away your care puts your safety at risk
  • if removing or reducing your care breaches the Human Rights Act (Citizens Advice)

Changes to your care support may include:

  • fewer hours each day
  • fewer days a week
  • stopping care support if it will not put your safety at risk and they think you can get help from somewhere else, like a family member

But your local authority must:

  • do a risk assessment and provide safeguarding
  • consider your wellbeing
  • explain why they have reduced or stopped your care
  • provide documentation of this review

You must be involved in your review.

Changes to your care will only be temporary while the local authority has the easements in place. When they stop using the easements, your care should go back to what’s in your support plan.

Care Act easements (GOV.UK)

Scope Helpline

Complaining about your care support

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.

Find an advocate (Disability Rights UK)

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.

How to complain (Local Government Ombudsman)

Legal action

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.

Finding legal help

Check if you can get legal aid (GOV.UK)

Warning Legal time limits

The time limit for legally challenging a decision is 3 months minus a day from the date of the decision. Do not wait until the end of the 3 months as the process can take time.

Get advice as soon as you think the decision about your care support is not legal. You may want to do this before making a complaint as they can sometimes take longer than 3 months to resolve.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 10/07/2020

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