Coronavirus social care and safety
Coronavirus - social care and safety
The unusual circumstances of the coronavirus emergency are putting every family under extra pressure. This section covers how social care services and direct payments are operating at the moment, as well as advice and information on family safety and behaviour issues, including updated information about what you can do under the the new national lockdown . There are exceptions to the lockdown rules about staying at home and gatherings with people outside your household that are helpful for families with a child or young person with SEND.
Support from social care services
A local authority can only make use of this relaxation of the rules if that LA is so short of staff or overwhelmed by demand that complying with all their usual duties under The Care Act is “no longer reasonably practicable” and “to continue to try to do so is likely to result in urgent or acute needs not being met, potentially risking life”. The duties that could then be relaxed mostly apply to adults and carers not to children. If adult social care activate this permission to relax some Care Act duties they will still have to make sure that the care people receive is enough to prevent a breach of their Human Rights. This does mean that existing care packages for over 18s could be changed or reduced, although the government guidance is clear that the person concerned (and carers) should be consulted as part of any decision to revise a care package.
The government has made it clear that this is not intended to mean people who need care stop getting it. They expect all LAs to keep doing the right thing. But it does recognise the pressure that the coronavirus is putting on social care and allows for LAs to focus on the most urgent needs and most vulnerable people if things get really tough.
Specialist Community Disability Service (SCDS) staff are working from home but trying to provide a normal service as far as possible. Read more about SEN interim arrangements in Brighton & Hove here The left hand menu has a link about SCDS.
If you have an allocated social worker they will contact you by phone to provide updates and to check in with how you and your family are doing. If you don’t have named worker the Intake duty system can offer support and advice. Phone: 01273 295 550 or email SCDS@brighton-hove.gov.uk
SCDS are continuing to monitor direct payments. Advice is still available from People Plus. If you have a problem with your current Direct Payments package, for example your PA may not be available, contact your Social Worker or Early Help Worker/Social Work Resource Officer. It may be possible to use your Direct Payments in a different way in the short term but you must contact your worker before making any changes to how you use your Direct Payments package. There is more detail about DPs and PAs below.
Drove Road and Tudor House (BHCC children’s residential respite centres) remain open for overnight respite, but they are affected by the need to keep children distanced and the availability of staff. There may come a time when this provision has to cease due to staff shortages and families needing to self-isolate, but the team will keep these services open as far as possible. If the centres do close the local authority will try to offer other options for short breaks like additional direct payments or support from outreach and social work staff.
ISEND Social Care teams are working from home but offering as close to a normal service as possible. Social workers in ISEND Social Care are continuing to respond to parents and assessing their needs on an individual basis. They are mostly doing this over the phone. All children’s social care services have been told to identify the children most at risk at this time and concentrate on them. Other more routine work may need to wait, but the ISEND social care team say they have mostly been able to find ways to respond to the particular challenges and queries from families of disabled children that are arising during the coronavirus pandemic.
If you don’t have a named worker in the children’s disability service, there is central ESCC contact point for all queries relating to Children’s Services and provision in the current difficult situation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0345 60 80 192 (10am-3pm).
Personal assistants and direct payments
You may need to provide your PAs with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), for example if they do personal care. If you can’t get this from your usual supplier, in Brighton& Hove there is a an online route to request this but only if you meet certain criteria and in East Sussex ESCC have information about PPE on their website with a couple of options including a form to request an emergency supply from the council and a small grant scheme towards the cost of PPE. Well Child, the national charity for sick children is offering help with PPE.
Frontline health and care workers are a amongst the first people being offered Covid-19 vaccination. PAs funded through either continuing healthcare or social care direct payments are included by this and so are in priority group 2 for vaccination. There is more information on the Sussex Health and Care Partnership page on vaccination for the health and care workforce. Carers in care homes for the elderly should all be vaccinated by late January. They expect to be able to vaccinate all other health, social care and care workers by mid-March.
The government have provided some guidance and FAQs about PAs and DPs which cover many of the questions parents have about DPs and PAs in the current crisis, including when PPE is needed. There is some information from People Plus who provide the PA support service in both East Sussex and Brighton & Hove this includes what you need to know about statutory sick pay if your PA is sick or self-isolating, why furlough does not apply to employees paid for from DPs and the options for paying your PA even if you feel it is safer for them not to come to your home at the moment. A good source of more detailed advice is from Mark Bates Ltd who are an insurance company frequently used by parents who employ PAs
If you think there are things you could buy that would make it easier to care for your child at home in the current difficult circumstances, talk to your social worker. The Children Act 1989 gives LAs the power to give direct payments to purchase equipment. In the current crisis it is reasonable to ask them to be flexible about how to meet the needs of disabled children. Using direct payments imaginatively may be part of the solution. But be sure to get agreement before you pay out for anything that is not in your current DP plan, even if you have the funds in your DP account. In practice social care may come up with another way to fund a reasonable request.
If you are worried about how to cope if you are without your usual help from PAs you should let your social worker know, particularly if any part of your agreed social care support package is not happening as normal e.g. if your child’s PA becomes ill or is self-isolating and you have not been able to find a replacement.
Respite, childcare, youth and leisure activities
Most short break and respite services had got back to offering parents a break and good experiences for children and young people, even if not with exactly their usual arrangements or number of sessions. Guidance from government under the four tier system was that childcare and respite services could stay open, with suitable measures to be Covid-safe, in every tier. Now we have a national lockdown again, respite can continue along with informal household support bubbles. Some childcare continues, including informal childcare bubbles.
Early years settings are still open. School age children can also continue to use childcare if they are vulnerable (this includes children with EHCPs) or if their parents are keyworkers. Households with a child under 14 can form a childcare bubble with another household (see below). Households that include a disabled child are amongst those that are allowed to also form a support bubble (see below).
Leaving home to provide care to a disabled person or to go to respite care are exempt from the “stay at home” rules. Children and young people can go to respite and can have carers come to their home or take them out. The guidance says you can meet others from outside your household, childcare or support bubble in order to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable, or to provide respite for a carer. This means more informal respite arrangements can continue as well as use of PAs and short breaks services.
Informal childcare for children under 13 can continue but only through forming a childcare bubble. A childcare bubble is where one household links with one other household to provide informal childcare to a child or children aged 13 or under. They can provide the childcare in either or both of the two homes or elsewhere. You can drop off and settle your children but not use this as a way to get around the rules about not socialising indoors. This is separate from forming a support bubble (see below). You can have both a support bubble and a childcare bubble. To find out more about who can have a childcare bubble and how, read the guidance on childcare bubbles.
Brighton and Hove use the search facility on the Family Services directory to find out about childcare and playschemes.
East Sussex has information on the Local Offer about activities and childcare during coronavirus.
Safety and family relationships
You cannot meet or socialise indoors other than with members of your own household and anyone in your support bubble (if you are entitled to form one). There are exceptions around caring for someone who needs this, childcare and respite (see above).
Outdoors, you can’t meet in your garden or most public spaces. You can take exercise only once a day in your local streets and in open spaces near you (parks, playgrounds, public gardens, in the countryside and at the beach) unless you need to go out more than once a day for health reasons. The guidance says that if you (or a person in your care) have a health condition that routinely requires you to leave home to maintain your health then you can go out more frequently. This can be alone or with members of your household/support bubble or with just one other person from another household. You can only be outdoors in a group larger than 2 if you are all from the same household, support or childcare bubble. But children under 5, and up to 2 carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care, are not counted towards this limit of two people from different households for exercising outside. Everyone is expected to stay in their local area but you can travel within your local area if you need to, for example to find a safe outdoor space for your child or young person. Again the guidance is that you can travel beyond your local area to exercise outdoors if you need to due to a health condition. You should carry evidence with you to show your child or young person is covered by these exceptions to the once a day, two people and stay very local rules. Amaze have produced a letter for this purpose and this has been shared with Sussex Police. Download the Letter for exercising during lockdown here.
If you are out for essential reasons the advice continues to be to avoid crowds, only use public transport if this is absolutely necessary, keep up with handwashing and stick to the two metre rule. Bearing in mind about 1 in 3 people with coronavirus have no symptoms and can pass it on without realising they have it, we should all follow the advice about social distancing.
Mencap have an easy read guide to the lockdown rules from January.
- Children under 11 (masks are optional for 3 to 11 year olds, and under-3s should not wear face coverings)
- If you have a disability or health condition that means you cannot wear masks, or it would cause you severe distress to do so
- If you are travelling with someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
View the full list of exemptions here.
If you have a child over 11 with a hidden disability it would be wise to carry proof in case you are challenged, for example, your Compass Card or DLA letter. You can also download a card to print or keep on your phone to easily communicate that you or your child are exempt from the face covering rules. Amaze has created two designs for children and young people to choose from:
Press and hold on the image for the option to download to your phone. If you want to print a copy to carry with you, download both designs here [pdf 63kb].
The government has now produced some national exemption badges or cards that can be downloaded onto a mobile phone or printed.
Here is an Easy Read guide to wearing face coverings on the bus [.doc 334kb] from Brighton & Hove Speak Out.
If you are looking for a mask with a clear panel to help with communication or lipreading, one source is the not for profit online shop for disabled children Fledglings.
If grandparents and other relatives normally help with childcare, this can continue if you can form a childcare or a support bubble with them.
- you live by yourself – even if carers visit you to provide support
- you are the only adult in your household who does not need continuous care as a result of a disability
- your household includes a child who is under the age of one or was under that age on 2 December 2020
- your household includes a child with a disability who requires continuous care and is under the age of 5, or was under that age on 2 December 2020
- you’re age 16 or 17 living alone or with others of the same age and without any adults
- you are a single adult living with one or more children who are under the age of 18 or were under that age on 12 June 2020
All those in a support bubble can act as if they live in the same household. They can spend time together inside each other’s homes including staying overnight and do not need to stay 2 metres apart. You have to choose just one other household. If at all possible they should be local to you. You can’t switch the household you are in a bubble with or connect with more than one other household. This is separate from forming a childcare bubble (see above under “informal childcare” ). You can have both a support bubble and a childcare bubble. Find out more about who can form a support bubble and how here.
There most comprehensive and up to date advice specifically for parents of children with SEND is from internet matters.
The Children’s Commissioner has also produced a digital safety guide for parents and one for children and young people
Coronavirus vaccination scam alert
Some people are receiving fraudulent calls and text messages offering the Covid-19 vaccination. In some cases, people are asked to press a number on their keypad or to send a text message to confirm they wish to receive the vaccine. Doing so is likely to result in a charge being applied to their phone bill. In other cases, callers are offering the vaccine for a fee or asking for bank details.
The vaccine is only available from the NHS and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn. At present, appointments are only being offered to the public over 80 years old.
The NHS will:
NEVER ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine. NEVER ask for payment or for your bank details.
For more about coronavirus vaccination visit our page on Covid and Health
Track and Trace tips
Police and Trading Standards have provided some guidelines around Track and Trace, to help you feel confident you’re in contact with the right people.
Genuine contact tracers will:
- contact you by sending you a text message from ‘NHS’, calling you from 0300 013 5000 or by email
- ask you to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website: https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk
- ask for your full name and date of birth, and your postcode
- ask about any coronavirus symptoms you’re experiencing
- ask for the name, telephone number and/or email address of anyone you have had close contact with in the two days prior to your symptoms starting
- ask if anyone you’ve been in contact with is under 18 or lives outside of England
They will never:
- try and get you to dial a premium rate (09 or 087) number to speak to them
- ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product of any kind
- try and get you to download any software to your PC, or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
- ask you to access any website other than the contact-tracing website (https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk)
- try and get any details about your bank account
- ask you for any passwords or PINs
- try and get you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
- ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
- offer any medical advice on the treatment of any possible coronavirus symptoms
If you suffer from fraud due to a scam like this, report it to Action Fraud.
The National Cyber Security Centre has also asked for people to forward anyone phishing attacks they receive (where someone pretends to be a reputable organisation to try to get your personal information) to them at this email address: email@example.com . Where the victim is vulnerable, report it to Sussex Police online or by calling 101.
In Brighton & Hove the Young Carers project at the Carers Centre may be able to offer some online support for siblings now taking more of a caring role. Parents can refer their own child to this service at the moment using their online young carers referral form and put ‘parent’ in the ‘professional agency’ box on the form.
If you are subject to domestic abuse, you are not alone, there is help available. For advice and support contact The Portal on 0300 323 9985 or via The Portal website.
If you are in immediate danger, or suspect someone else is, call 999.
If you are unable to talk, call 999, listen to the operator and then either press 55 on a mobile, when prompted, or wait on a landline to be connected to the police, who will be able to help.
Behaviour and parenting
East Sussex : If your child is already connected with a worker at an ISEND service for example from the CLASS or ESBAS teams, they may be able to offer advice to you at home now. Open for Parents have helpful parenting advice and information on their website and they are sharing ideas on their OpenforParents Facebook page.
The ISEND helpline for parent carers of children with SEND run by educational psychologists reopens on 18 January in response to the new lockdown. Any parent of a child or young person with SEND can call the ISEND telephone number 01273 481967 at any time and leave a message saying that you would like to talk to an EP. Your child does not need to have an EHCP. ISEND educational psychology service have written a guide for parents about emotional wellbeing that you can use to help your child manage the emotions that can lead to tricky behaviour.
Brighton & Hove: If your child is already connected with a worker at BHISS for example from the autism or the SEMH teams, they may be able to offer advice to you at home now. The Integrated Team for Families are providing virtual support to families via Family Coaching. Front Door for Families and the Parenting Team are offering support and advice. Find their contact details here.
Amaze are restarting our our Triple P Stepping Stones courses for parents of children with SEND. Contact the SENDIASS helpline to ask about this.
If you have a named worker from the Specialist Community Disability Service (BHCC) or ISEND Children’s Disability Service (ESCC) you should contact them if your child’s behaviour is becoming a challenge to manage at home during lockdown. If you are not under one of these services call Front Door for Families in Brighton & Hove on 01273 290400 (out-of-hours 01273 335905) or SPOA in East Sussex on 01323 464222 (out-of-hours 01273 335906). Do this urgently if you or other children in the house are at risk as a result.
In an emergency situation you can and should call the police via 999.
Advice and support for carers
As part of this planning make sure you have an up to date Hospital Passport or This is Me Care Passport for your child or young person. You could also prepare an NHS Covid-19 grab and go guide for them to be ready in case they need health services during the pandemic.
Care for the Carers is still working to support carers in East Sussex, switching services to phone, email or online and has information about extra support from other carers organisations across the county at this time, like this example.