Helpful Documents and Links
Websites regarding current COVID-19 updates
COVID-19 Testing for Personal Assistants
Thursday 11th February 2021
New COVID-19 rapid testing centres to open in Suffolk
A further seven rapid testing centres for COVID-19 are to open in Suffolk. These tests are for people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus and cannot work from home. The sites will open over the next week in Felixstowe, Martlesham, Mildenhall, Stowmarket and Sudbury, with further centres opening in Ipswich and Lowestoft.
It brings to 10 the total number of centres around the county using lateral flow testing to identify people who may have coronavirus but who do not have symptoms. One in three people with coronavirus do not have symptoms so regular testing is vital in breaking the chain of infection and keeping Suffolk safe. Suffolk County Council is also finalising with the government the opening of a further 16 smaller sites to serve rural communities.
The centres are for anyone living or working in the towns and surrounding area who are unable to work from home. Employers are also being urged to encourage their staff to book regular testing.
The testing sites are operated on behalf of Suffolk County Council (SCC) seven days a week between 7am and 6pm. Tests should be booked in advance.
The new centres opening are:
Wednesday February 10 – Brackenbury Sports Centre, High Road East, Felixstowe
Thursday February 11 – Whitton Sports Centre, Whitton Church Lane, Whitton, Ipswich
Friday February 12 – Museum of East Anglian Life, off Iliffe Way, Stowmarket
Monday February 15 – Waterlane Leisure Centre, Water Lane, Lowestoft
Tuesday February 16 – Martlesham Community Hall, Felixstowe Road, Martlesham
Wednesday February 17 – The Pavilion, Recreation Way, Mildenhall
Thursday February 18 – The Stevenson Centre, Stevenson Approach, Great Cornard, Sudbury
There are already facilities at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich, the STEM Centre in Western Way at West Suffolk College, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill Arts Centre, St Etheldreda’s parish centre in Newmarket, and Kirkley & Pakefield FC in Lowestoft.
Lateral flow testing involves taking a swab from the throat and nose to see whether coronavirus is present in the body. The person tested will then receive a text message giving the result within an hour. Anyone giving a positive test will be told to self-isolate and advised on what to do next.
People are being asked to get tested twice a week, three to four days apart, as part of their weekly routine.
Anyone receiving a negative result needs to continue to follow the social distancing guidance as they may only be at the early stages of developing the virus.
This is in case levels of the virus in a person at the earlier test were too low to be detected at that time.
The centres are being run by contractors Commisceo on behalf of SCC through government funding.
Appointments for tests can be made through registering on the booking website https://commisceo-pcs.shiftpartner.com/ or calling 0333 772 6144.
The centres are only for people not showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Anyone who is showing symptoms, or who may have been in close contact with someone who has, should not visit the centre.
Instead, they should ring 119 or go to the NHS website to book a test at one of the 12 symptomatic testing sites in Suffolk.
For more details about testing go to the Suffolk County Council website.
Thursday 28th January 2021
We have received information from some of our customers who have said that they have been contacted by email by someone pretending to be the NHS. They are requesting payment information to purchase their COVID19 vaccine. Please note that these are scams. IF you have received an email like this, please delete the email and report it as spam to your email provider.
You can also contact the Citizen's advice Scam Team on 0808 250 5050 or visit their website on https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/reporting-a-scam/.
Friday 15th January 2021
Suffolk Independent Living has been working with the NHS, Suffolk County Council and Norfolk County Council. We are now able to take information about paid workers who are interested in the COVID-19 vaccination.
Please visit https://www.suffolkindependentliving.org.uk/vaccine-registration and read the information. If your workers would like to register for the vaccine, please complete the form. If you are having trouble completing the form, please call 01473 603876.
Thursday 14th January 2021
Rapid COVID 19 tests are now available for asymptomatic people at Athena Hall in the University Of Suffolk, Ipswich. To book a test, please see the rapid test information in the links above. Alternatively, visit https://commisceo pcs.shiftpartner.com/sign-up or call 0333 772 6144.
If you are symptomatic, please visit https://www.gov.uk/get coronavirus test for further advice
Friday 8th January 2021
Booking Weekly COVID tests - If you are a worker, you can book weekly COVID tests by visiting: https://commisceo-pcs.shiftpartner.com/sign-up.
Please visit the above page and register to book yourself a weekly COVID test.
Friday 6th July 2020
Wellbeing Suffolk have arranged a virtual Suffolk Music Fest to support people during this time. It will be on 16th July 2020 and there are virtual events you can attend.
If you want to get involved or have any queries, get in touch at or visit https://www.wellbeingnands.co.uk/suffolk/social-events/
Friday 3rd July 2020
NHS Wellbeing have created a helpline for older people to assist with feelings of isolation and uncertainty. They can give information on how to best look after your mental health and this time and link with social options.
You can contact them on 0300 123 1503 or visit their wesbite www.wellbeingnands.co.uk
You can find the leaflet here: Wellbeing Leaflet
Tuesday 16th June 2020
Monday 27th April 2020
Care Development East has produced a newsletter with some up-to-date information about COVID track and trace and other things that might be helpful during this time.
Bungay Emergency Community Support - Bungay Town Council have arranged a support service for vulnerable people, people who are self-isolating or those who are living with people who are vulnerable or self-isolating. They are working between 8.00am and 8.00pm, 7 days per week. They can collect groceries and prescriptions.
They can be contacted on 0300 365 2995 and currently cover the 6 miles around Bungay. They will also consider going slightly further afield, or will refer people to other groups if needed.
Wednesday 22nd April 2020
The government has brought out guidance regarding COVID 19 for Direct Payment recipients. You can find it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-people-receiving-direct-payments
Wednesday 22nd April 2020
Please see the below information regarding testing PAs for COVID 19:
You may have already received notification, but here’s a positive development for Direct Payment recipients employing Personal Assistants.
We have been asked, along with others who commented on the documents above, to promote this new opportunity as widely as possible so that all Direct Payment recipients are aware that they can offer their PA’s a test if they meet the criteria – that either they or one or more of their family household members is displaying Coronavirus like symptoms.
Government has chosen to use the term personal care assistant so there is no confusion about other types of personal assistant since they are not currently priority Health and Social Care sector staff. We thought we could go with that for now as they do also use the term PA interchangeably.
• An invitation for personal care assistants, to be issued to PAs by their employers upon request (if they meet the conditions), to register for a test
• A slide pack that contains information and detail on the process for employers and personal care assistants on testing
• The initial letter from Government on the expansion of the testing programme
• A draft letter/email template that can be sent to specific individuals or organisations.
In terms of communicating this, the key thing we will be looking to make clear is that all PAs who meet the criteria, are eligible for testing. It’s not perfect, but it is a step forward. There will probably be logistical barriers (getting to testing centres), which we have already highlighted, and we continue to have dialogue with Department of Health and Social Care colleagues leading this work to suggest better and alternative ways of reaching as many PA’s as possible.
Thursday 9th April 2020
Tuesday 7th April 2020
FISH insurance have put together a FAQ page regarding COVID-19 to answer some of your employment questions.
You can find this information here: https://www.fishinsurance.co.uk/coronavirus-update-for-carer-employers/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Fish%20Insurance%20-%20Coronavirus%20Update%20-%20Local%20Authorities&utm_content=Fish%20Insurance%20-%20Coronavirus%20Update%20-%20Local%20Authorities+CID_d5a9fee7a339f4d1205ea1d5fabe4221&utm_source=Email%20marketing&utm_term=Find%20out%20more
Beyond Words have produced a short wordless story, that will help people to understand what to do if they have Coronavirus and how to keep yourself and those who you care about safe.
The story also shows how to safely help others who may be self-isolating.
Supplementary text at the end of the story gives information on where people can seek help if they are unwell and signposts to other useful resources.
You can find the story in the Useful Documents above, or on: https://booksbeyondwords.co.uk/downloads-shop/beating-the-virus
The book is completely free, but you will have to go through the checkout procedure.
Tuesday 7th April 2020
Skills for Care have put together a really helpful page giving advice to individual employer's during the COVID-19 outbreak. It includes useful links, advice, template letters and even some e-learning.
Tuesday 7th April 2020
We haven't had any updates recently as things have been changing so quickly, however the Government have just released advice regarding Furlough and how this affects individuals receiving support from the government via Direct Payments.
HMRC states that:
Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them.
This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs. Organisations who are receiving public funding specifically to provide services necessary to respond to COVID-19 are not expected to furlough staff.
Therefore, unfortunately, Direct Payment holders are very unlikely to be covered under the current Furlough advice as their funding is very likely to continue. If you are concerned about this, it may be worth speaking to your insurance company for further advice.
In the Useful documents section above, there is some information by Mark Bates Insurance regarding Employer's responsibilities and Furlough advice. Please do download and look through the advice if you are interested.
Thursday 26th March 2020
Skills for Care and the Suffolk Parent Carer Network, have co-produced a booklet with education, health and care services. It will support parents and carers with resources so that they are able to talk to their child/young person about COVID-19 (Coronavirus), specific strategies to support children and young people experiencing emotional wellbeing and mental health needs, school closures, and lots of other online resources.
The leaflet it saved above in our Helpful Documents and Links box.
Wednesday 25th March 2020
There have been a temporary change to ID checking guidelines for DBS forms. This change will allow employers to check ID documents via a video link or scanned documents for the time being. The employee will then need to bring the original documents with them on their first day of employment or volunteering.
More information can be found on: www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-changes-to-standard-and-enhanced-id-checking-guidelines?utm_source=a548bf71-206e-486c-83a6-b7aae12a67b0&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate
Tuesday 24th March 2020
If you are an employer and you are concerned about your employees getting to work following the advice regarding "lockdown", we have put together a template letter that you can amend and pass to your employees to establish them as keyworkers. They can keep this letter with them as confirmation that they are required to attend work should anyone question them.
You can download the letter in our Helpful Documents and Links section (above). If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact s.
Monday 23rd March 2020
We can reassure you that we are following the government advice about social distancing so we have the best chances of keeping well and therefore keep working to support you with your Direct Payments at this challenging time.
This does mean you may notice some changes to the way we do things. If we have an email address for you, we will be sending post out by email. If you need hard copies, we will endeavour to get these out to you but there may be a delay.
Where possible we ask that you email your post to us. You can send timesheets and invoices directly to our payroll and finance team at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are e-copies of timesheets and expenses forms on our website you can download, or we can email these to you. Alternatively, if you have access to a smartphone you can take photos of the post and email it to us. We have been asked by IBC not to have visitors into the building, so please do not drop post off to IP City.
Our phones are still open; however, we may not be able to answer your calls as quickly as normal due to the number and complexity of the queries we are currently supporting with. We ask that you refer to our Facebook page and website as we have added lots of relevant information to our pages which may answer your queries. Including a Covid-19 FAQ which has the answers to many commonly asked questions, links to the most current advice from the NHS, Public Heath England and from ACAS that answers many commonly asked employment queries. There are also contact details for the local authority, NHS and your insurance company helplines. If you are able to please try and email us where possible at email@example.com and we will try and get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not be put off calling, we are still here.
We have been asked not to have visitors into the building, so please do not drop post off or attempt to visit us at IP City.
As a team we remain committed to staying open and providing a good quality service.
Suffolk Independent Living
Friday 20th March 2020
Calling all PAs, Carers and Support Workers
As we all know, we are experiencing an unprecedented time of uncertainty and confusion as we are all trying to deal with everyday life and Coronavirus (COVID-19).
We are aware that there are issues with PAs and people in need of support having to self-isolate, leading to more people needing care and PAs being potentially left without work. We would like to be able to try and link PAs without work with service users in need of support at this difficult time.
If you are a PA, carer or support worker who can offer additional hours to another person in need, and you are prepared to have your details recorded and passed on then please contact us for more details.
If you are a person that has had your support affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) and might benefit from having a cover PA, then please also let us know.
Obviously as we do not directly employ PAs ourselves it would be down to individuals to check the suitability of workplaces and candidates.
For more details please call Suffolk Independent Living on:
Thursday 19th March 2020
We understand what a worrying time it is for our service users, not only in terms of your own health and well-being but of your PAs, carers and support workers. We have received a high number of calls over the last few days regarding the situation with COVID-19, and we have given advice as per the guidelines set out by Pubic Health England and the NHS.
We have asked the local authority to advise us of their contingency plans and we will update our advice when we have received this. We understand the CCGs are currently putting measures in place to support direct payment recipients.
Although we cannot specifically advise you on whether or not your workers should come into work, or what would happen should they be unable to, however we can talk through the options.
We would ask that you keep yourself updated with the advice being given out be the government and NHS as per the links below:
If you have concerns around your support arrangements you can contact Customer First on 0808 800 4005 if you support is funded by Suffolk County Council, or you could contact your practitioner if your support is funded by the NHS via Continuing Healthcare.
Things are changing rapidly and currently the advice is that anyone with a new persistent dry cough and/or a temperature should self-isolate for 14 days. Today the deputy Chief medical officer has advised that the NHS will be using testing of the corona-virus flexibly, so that front line care staff may be tested, and therefore may not have to isolate for 14 days. We highly advise having conversations with your employees about this and that they make enquiries as and when required.
We also advice that you have regular and ongoing conversations with your employees about their concerns around working and the virus.
We will continue to offer advice where we can, however our phone lines are busier than usual, and you may find your answers via the links we have provided.
In addition, ACAS have provided some specific advice to employers which you may also find useful.