Information available below in relation to Direct Payments/Personal Health Budgets and Personal assistants in relation to Covid 19

 

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Latest vaccination information is now available.

PAs are frontline health and social care workers and should be included in phase 1 of the vaccine rollout and cohort number 2 on the priority list. This has been confirmed by DHSC and NHS. Standard Operating Procedures for the roll out of the vaccine health and social care workers have now been published. This sets out responsibilities and processes that PAs (and their employer, where relevant) need to follow to ensure that they’re able to receive the vaccine.

Working safely and social distancing

Guidance on how to stay safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is updated regularly. For the latest government guidance:

Everyone should:

  • work from home if they can
  • follow guidance on making the workplace safe
  • avoid busy commuting times on public transport where travel is essential, and wear a face covering
  • wash their hands regularly

You must not go to work if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

Social distancing at work

In Scotland and Wales, everyone should stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart ('social distancing' or 'physical distancing').

In England, everyone should stay 2 metres apart where possible. If it's not possible, people should be at least 1 metre apart and the employer should make extra changes to keep people safe. This might include things like wearing face coverings, working side by side instead of face to face, or using screens or barriers to separate people.

 Personal Assistants and Testing See the source image

Information on testing has been updated. Now anyone living in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and have any of the symptoms of coronavirus, can ask for a test through the NHS website.
⇨ Ask for a test
As essential workers, personal assistants can apply for priority testing through GOV.UK by following the guidance on testing for essential workers.
⇨ Arrange a test for a PA
Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible, how to get tested and the testing process.
⇨ See guidance

 

 

****Information sourced from Skills for care, DWP, DirectGov and other organisations

 

 

An individual should not go to the workplace if they:

  • have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus
  • are told to self-isolate (stay at home) by a government test and trace service, because they've been in close contact with someone who's tested positive
  • need to self-isolate because someone in their household has symptoms or has tested positive
  • need to self-isolate because they've returned to the UK after a holiday or business travel

If they're already at work, they should:

  • tell their employer immediately and go home
  • avoid touching anything, and wash their hands regularly
  • cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow
  • use a separate bathroom from others, if possible
  • avoid using public transport to travel home, if possible

If someone with coronavirus comes to work

If someone with coronavirus comes to work, the workplace does not necessarily have to close, but they should follow cleaning advice.

See advice for cleaning workplaces on GOV.UK.

Supporting staff who need to self-isolate

If someone needs to self-isolate, it's good practice for employers to:

Depending on someone's circumstances, they might have to self-isolate more than once during the coronavirus pandemic. Employers should support them in the same way each time.

To find out how long someone must self-isolate for, see:

For workplace advice about the government test and trace services:

Employees and workers who who are no longer shielding may be able to return to the workplace if it's safe.

Anyone who's been shielding should talk to their employer as soon as possible about plans to help them return.

If they can continue to work from home, the employer should support this.

If working from home is not possible, options might include:

  • the employer putting extra measures in place to keep the person safe in the workplace
  • the person taking up an alternative role
  • temporarily changing the person's working patterns

Some people may be at very high risk of being severely ill if they catch coronavirus. Although shielding has been paused, someone’s doctor may advise them not to return to the workplace if they’re not fit to work.

An employee or worker affected by this should get a letter from their doctor to explain that they need to stay at home. They should share this with their employer. The employer should talk with the person to understand the issue and see how they can support them.

As of 13 March 2020, employees and workers who self-isolate must receive any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them from the first day they're absent from work if it's because:

  • they have coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • they have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste
  • someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms
  • they've been advised to stay at home by their doctor because of an underlying health condition
  • they've been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111
  • they've been told to self-isolate by a government 'test and trace' service, because they've been in close contact with someone who tested positive ('NHS Test and Trace' in England, 'Test and Protect' in Scotland or 'Test, trace, protect' in Wales)
To be eligible for SSP, employees and workers must be off work for at least 4 days in a row. This includes non-working days.

If an employee or worker cannot work, they should tell their employer:

  • as soon as possible
  • the reason
  • how long they're likely to be off for

If someone has symptoms or has tested positive

If someone has symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus, they must self-isolate (stay at home) for at least 10 days.

Anyone else in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.

If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms or tests positive, they must self-isolate for at least 10 days. This is regardless of where they are in the 14-day isolation period.

For more about households with coronavirus symptoms:

If someone is told to self-isolate by a test and trace service

If a government 'test and trace' service tells someone they've been in close recent contact with someone who has tested positive, they must self-isolate for 14 days. If they develop symptoms, everyone else in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.

For more information about test and trace:

If the employer needs proof

Employees in self-isolation need to follow their workplace's usual sickness reporting process.

Employees can 'self-certify' for the first 7 days off work. This means following their workplace process but not having to get a note from a doctor or NHS 111.

Those self-isolating due to coronavirus for more than 7 days can get an online self-isolation note from the:

It's a good idea to check your workplace's policy on absence from work. Employers might need to be flexible if asking for self-isolation notes. For example, an employee with severe symptoms might not be able to get a note straight away.

n most situations, employees and workers should use their paid holiday ('statutory annual leave') in their current leave year. This is 5.6 weeks in the UK.

This is important because taking holiday helps people:

  • get enough rest
  • keep healthy, both physically and mentally

Being flexible about holiday during coronavirus

Employers, employees and workers should be as flexible as they can about holiday during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It's a good idea to:

  • talk about any plans to use or cancel holiday during coronavirus as soon as possible
  • discuss why holiday might need to be taken or cancelled
  • listen to any concerns, either from staff or the employer
  • welcome and suggest ideas for other options
  • consider everyone's physical and mental wellbeing
  • be aware that it's a difficult time for both employers and staff

 

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you may be working from home, leaving your home to go to work or on ‘furlough’ (temporary leave). 

In any of these situations, you may find it hard to look after your mental health and wellbeing. For example, you may be working longer hours, be under pressure, have childcare responsibilities or find it difficult to cope with minimal social contact. 

There is no right or wrong way to feel in your situation. But some common feelings may include stress or anxiety. 

If you already have a mental health problem, it’s particularly important to talk to your manager about how you’re feeling. Your manager may be able to give you extra support. 

To help support your wellbeing you can:

  • stay in contact with people – talk to colleagues or friends about how you’re feeling
  • have a routine so you plan in advance what you’ll be doing each day
  • keep active and exercise
  • make time for activities you enjoy
  • reflect on what helps you feel more positive and what does not

The Department of Health has confirmed that PAs are included in the definition of key worker. If you are being challenged a template letter is available from us please call 01482878778 or email office@choicesandrights.org.uk

If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with coronavirus symptoms, they should:

  • If possible, get at least 2 metres (7 feet) away from other people
  • Go to a room or area behind a closed door.
  • avoid touching anything
  • cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow
  • use a separate bathroom from others, if possible

The unwell person should either:

It’s best for the unwell person to use their own mobile phone to access these services if possible.

 

If you are staying at home because of COVID-19 you can now claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.

If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after 7 days of sickness absence.

If you are absent from work due to sickness or if you are self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19), SSP will be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work for every day of sickness or every day you are in isolation. This applies from 13 March.

You must tell your employer you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19) or sick for another reason within 7 days. You could lose some of your SSP if you do not.

To be eligible for SSP you must earn an average of at least £118 per week.

If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.

 

 

You should discuss with the provider the possibility of finding different and creative ways for activities to continue. For example, in the person’s home if possible or in a safe, open air, community space.

Consider using direct payments to recruit and employ a PA to deliver support in the home. We can help with this.

Always keep in regular touch with your provider, even if they have had to stop delivering activities, as the position may change and new ideas will emerge.

 

 

 

You should discuss with your care agency and find alternative, different ways of arranging services that would continue to meet the needs of the individual. For example, reducing the number of home visits or changing the times of the visits. It’s important to be as flexible as possible – as long as you stay safe.

Direct Payments will not be stopped

Self-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. They should therefore notify you of their intention to self-isolate in accordance with your sickness and absence procedures.

They have the right to remain away from work for a period of 14 days from the symptoms becoming known. You can find detailed Government guidance on staying at home due to a possible Coronavirus infection here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

As the employee is considered to be unfit for work, they are entitled to statutory sick pay (if eligible) from day one of the absence.

Statutory sick pay is payable to employees who: - are employees or workers (includes zero hours and casual workers) and have earned on average £118 per week over the last 8 weeks, and - have given you the correct notice If the employee is not eligible you must provide them with the SSP1 form to explain why, which will allow them to present a claim for possible benefits. Statutory sick pay is paid at a rate of £94.25 per week, rising to £95.85 from 6th April 2020. The Government have announced that they will repay payments of SSP, up to 14 days, for each employee. If your employee is genuinely poorly with the virus themselves, they may well need more than 14 days. The NHS would expect to hear from them if symptoms have not alleviated after 14 days and so it is likely that further medical treatment and testing would be required at that stage. If the sickness absence persists beyond 14 days your normal sickness reporting procedures will apply, as will ongoing payment of SSP. At this stage you may feel it appropriate to obtain medical evidence to support the claim for ongoing SSP.

 

If your PA can’t work

Self-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. It's important to stay at home and self-isolate if you are displaying symptoms.

Advice about staying at home on the NHS website.

If your Personal Assistant tells you they have symptoms of COVID-19 as described on NHS website, they should stay home or you can send them home. If they earn above the Lower Employment Limit (LEL) statutory sick pay would apply from day one.

If they don’t qualify, they can check GOV.UK to see if they can get financial support in the form Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance.

The statutory sick pay (SSP) regulations 2020 (coronavirus amendment) came into force Friday 13 March. SSP will now be payable to those self-isolating merely under Government guidance so there’s no need for formal written notice to be given by a medical officer.

 

 

 

If your PA chooses not to work and there’s no identified high risk then no pay other than authorised annual leave will be given as this is an unauthorised absence.

 

 

PAs are considered to be key workers. This means your PA’s children is eligible continue to attend school if they can’t be safely cared for at home.

The PA will need to contact the school for more information.

 

 

 

If your PA can work, they should carry on fulfilling their duties.

You and your PA must take any new rules on health and safety procedures very seriously and implement them based on government guidance. This is for their protection and to prevent the spread of infection to other people.

 

 

Personal Assistants (PAs) are key workers and are currently eligible for testing if they have symptoms.

Your PA can apply for a test on GOV.UK. The test is available for key workers (your PA) who currently have symptoms of COVID-19, or who live with someone who has symptoms. If this criteria changes, this will be updated on the government website.  There is a testing facility at Bristol airport with a capacity of 700 tests per day.

After the test your PA will receive a text or phone call with their results.  You can ask your PA to:

  • let you know when they are having the test
  • the result when they receive it

 

 

 

 

This new guidance, published on 21 April (updated on 6 July 2020), is for people who buy care and support through a direct payment, as well as local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and those who provide care and support. It sets out key messages to managing a direct payment during this time and help slow the transmission of COVID-19.

Read updated information (formerly the Q & A) on using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak, an updated Easy Read Guide to Direct Payments and a useful headline list of 7 things direct payment holders need to know during the outbreak.

This guidance includes examples of emergency direct payments and using direct payments during the Covid-19 pandemic including:

The direct payment recipient needs to make sure that the health and safety procedures are always fully explained to their personal assistants and that they enforce these procedures.

For general advice on infection control and the appropriate equipment and clothing see Coronavirus: Infection, Prevention and Control.

For more specific advice on the Personal Protective Equipment to use in the community depending on your circumstances see:

Yes.

Choices and Rights biggest responsibility is to protect the health and safety of our community – both customers and staff. In order to reduce exposure to the virus we have made some changes to our services. From 17th March 2020 our offices will be closed until further notice, but we will continue to offer telephone on 01482878778 and email support at office@choicesandrights.org.uk
We have taken the decision to stop all home visits. This began on 17th March 2020 and will be in place until further notice.

No we ask you do not come to the office.

Choices and Rights biggest responsibility is to protect the health and safety of our community – both customers and staff. In order to reduce exposure to the virus we have made some changes to our services. From 17th March 2020 our offices will be closed until further notice, but we will continue to offer telephone on 01482878778 and email support at office@choicesandrights.org.uk
We have taken the decision to stop all home visits. This began on 17th March 2020 and will be in place until further notice.

Assuming your PA employees are themselves fit and willing to attend work, they should carry on fulfilling their duties. It is essential that you and they take very seriously any new rules on health and safety procedures you implement based on government guidance. It is not just for their own protection but also to prevent the spread of infection to other people in the household, fellow colleagues and the public at large when leaving your home.

If my personal assistant has to self- isolate as they or someone in their household have shown signs of a consistent cough or fever, what do they do?

Self-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. They should therefore notify you of their intention to self-isolate in accordance with your sickness and absence procedures.

What are my PA’s rights if they have to self-isolate?

They have the right to remain away from work for a period of 14 days from the symptoms becoming known. You can find detailed Government guidance on staying at home due to a possible Covid-19 infection here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

They will get paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are eligible (earn over £120/week). They will be paid from day one rather than the

fourth day of their illness. This will be applied retrospectively from 13th March 2020.

You do not need evidence from your PA to be able to claim SSP for them.

If they are self-isolating and then become sick, they should let you know

They can get a sick note from NHS 111 by following the link here https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/

What if my PA does not earn enough to be eligible for SSP?

They will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive an advance without physically attending a job centre. Please visit https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

If I or my PA becomes sick with symptoms relating to coronavirus, can I send them home?

Yes, if your Personal Assistant lets you know they have symptoms described by the government guidelines you should send them home to Self-isolate.

What do I do if as the Direct Payment employer I feel it is safer for my Personal Assistants to self-isolate at home for your safety, even though they have not displayed symptoms?

You will need to pay them full pay if they are on contracted hours.

If because of coronavirus, my personal assistant does not want to come to work and neither my PA or myself (as the employer) are showing any symptoms. Do I still have to pay my personal assistant?

If the PA chooses not to work and there is no identified high risk then no pay (other than authorised annual leave) will be given as this is an unauthorised absence.

Please note that Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay are not affected.

 

You need to develop a contingency plan. This is where you plan for such eventualities such as: is there a Care Agency who could cover, can other staff pick up shifts, could you get ex staff to work for you again. You could also ask your friends and family to help out.

There are also volunteers or community group that could help.

If the replacement staff member has been ‘furloughed’ by another employer, they need to get permission from their employer to take on paid work for anyone else. They can support you but it will have to be unpaid.

If they are currently unemployed and receiving benefits, they must declare this new employment.

If they are currently receiving Carers’ Allowance, they must declare that they are now a paid carer.

New Paid staff must receive Terms & Conditions of Employment from their employer on their first day of paid work.

Please call our team on 01482878778 to get further support or email office@choicesandrights.org.uk

 

Please call us on 01482878778 or email the office at office@choicesandrights.or.guk for support.

You will need to speak to your local authority to discuss this, you will need to justify why the expense is beneficial. They may agree to fund the additional expense, but this may not necessarily be by using the Direct payment funds. Please do not spend any money on such purchases without authorisation.

This is a template of a COVID 19 Contingency Plan for your care that you may use for your own needs. It help you put down the essential things that you need for your care and support with on a daily basis: Contingency plan template

An example of a contingency plan for home if any one of the household gets ill. It sets out: How they can care for each other whilst minimising risk of cross infection and how they can manage illness as far as possible at home and absolutely minimise the need for hospital treatment. Home contingency template example

Contingency planning is a key part of any personalised care and support planning
process and it is likely that you will already have covered this in your personalised
care and support plan. However, in this difficult period there is a greater chance that
any paid or unpaid care arrangements you have in place could break down due to
sickness or self-isolation and it is important that you, and your carers, are prepared
for this eventuality.

The Government are urging you to follow the NHS guidance which is being kept up to date on their website. At present the public are being asked not to go to the GP or even to call NHS 111 unless you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.

 

Information source Mark Bates Ltd

They have the right to remain away from work for a period of 14 days from the symptoms becoming known. You can find detailed Government guidance on staying at home due to a possible Coronavirus infection here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

As the employee is considered to be unfit for work, they are entitled to statutory sick pay (if eligible) from day one of the absence.

Statutory sick pay is payable to employees who: - are employees or workers (includes zero hours and casual workers) and have earned on average £118 per week over the last 8 weeks, and - have given you the correct notice If the employee is not eligible you must provide them with the SSP1 form to explain why, which will allow them to present a claim for possible benefits. Statutory sick pay is paid at a rate of £94.25 per week, rising to £95.85 from 6th April 2020. The Government have announced that they will repay payments of SSP, up to 14 days, for each employee. If your employee is genuinely poorly with the virus themselves, they may well need more than 14 days. The NHS would expect to hear from them if symptoms have not alleviated after 14 days and so it is likely that further medical treatment and testing would be required at that stage. If the sickness absence persists beyond 14 days your normal sickness reporting procedures will apply, as will ongoing payment of SSP. At this stage you may feel it appropriate to obtain medical evidence to support the claim for ongoing SSP.

 

Information source Mark Bates Ltd

Self-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. They should therefore notify you of their intention to self-isolate in accordance with your sickness and absence procedures.

 

 

Information source Mark Bates Ltd

In normal cases of sickness absence, you can ask the employee for a medical certificate, after the first seven days of absence. Under circumstances of self-isolation however, it is not advisable that you press for such evidence as the current guideline to self-isolating employees is that they are not to go to the GP. It would also be impossible for you to demand evidence of another householder’s private medical affairs where someone else is the reason your employee is self-isolating.

Information source Mark Bates Ltd

Who this guidance is for

With the arrival of winter and an increase in the number of cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), it is more important than ever that we all take steps to reduce the spread of infection in the community to save lives and protect the NHS.

This guidance is for:

  • people with symptoms that may be caused by COVID-19 including those who are waiting for a test
  • people who have received a positive COVID-19 test result (whether or not they have symptoms)
  • people who currently live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 symptoms or who has received a positive test result

In this guidance a household means:

  • one person living alone
  • a group of people (who may or may not be related) living at the same address and who share cooking facilities, bathrooms or toilets and/or living areas
  • support bubble

Follow separate guidance if you do not currently live in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 but have had close contact with someone who has tested positive. If you have arrived in the UK from overseas you may also need to self-isolate.

Symptoms

The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

For most people, COVID-19 will be a mild illness. However, if you have any of the symptoms above, stay at home and arrange to have a test.

Main messages

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have received a positive test result

Stay at home and begin to self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms start. Arrange to have a test for COVID-19 if you have not already had one. The result of the test will determine how long you must stay at home and self-isolate.

Stay at home while you are waiting for a home test kit or a test site appointment.

A positive test result means you must complete a 10-day isolation period.

If your test is negative, you can stop self-isolating as long as you are well.

If you do not have symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19, stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day the test was taken. If you develop symptoms after your test, restart your 10-day isolation period from the day the symptoms start.

Stay as far away from other members of your household as possible, especially if they are clinically extremely vulnerable. Avoid using shared spaces such as kitchens and other living areas while others are present and take your meals back to your room to eat.

You could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19 and you are notified by NHS Test and Trace that you need to self-isolate.

If you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19

Stay at home for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day the first person in your house developed symptoms or, if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken.

If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 yourself you do not need a test. Only arrange a test if you develop COVID-19 symptoms.

If you develop symptoms and your test result is positive, follow the same advice for people with COVID-19 to stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started, regardless of where you are in your 14-day period.

You could be fined if you are identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 and you are notified by NHS Test and Trace that you need to self-isolate and do not to stay at home and self-isolate.

Reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your household

Everyone in your household should take the following steps to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 or passing it on to others.

Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitiser. Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze, bin it promptly and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Avoid touching your face.

Regularly clean frequently touched surfaces and shared areas such as kitchens and bathrooms and keep indoor areas well-ventilated by opening windows where possible.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test result, use a face covering when spending time in shared areas inside your home.

Look after your health and wellbeing

Remember to take care of your mind as well as your body and get support if you need it. Think about the things you can do during your time at home and stay in touch with family and friends over the phone, or by text, email or social media.

Exercise in your home, garden or private outdoor space if you feel well enough.

There are many sources of support and information, including guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19 and guidance on supporting children and young people.

If your condition gets worse or in a medical emergency

Health and care services remain open to help people with all health conditions, including COVID-19. Most people with COVID-19 will experience a mild illness which can be managed at home. More information about managing the symptoms at home is available.

If you or anyone in your household feel like you cannot cope with the symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, use the NHS 111 online COVID-19 service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111.

For a medical emergency dial 999.

How COVID-19 is spread

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through small droplets, aerosols and through direct contact. Surfaces and belongings can also be contaminated with COVID-19 when people with the infection cough or sneeze or touch them. The risk of spread is greatest when people are close to each other, especially in poorly ventilated indoor spaces and when people spend a lot of time together in the same room.

Social distancing, washing your hands and good respiratory hygiene (using and disposing of tissues), cleaning surfaces and keeping indoor spaces well ventilated are the most important ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

People who have COVID-19 can infect others up to 2 days before symptoms start, and for up to 10 days after. They can pass the infection to others, even if they have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, which is why they must stay at home.

People who live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 are at higher risk of developing COVID-19 in the next 14 days. They could spread the disease to others even when feeling well, which is why they must stay at home.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have received a positive test result

It is very important that people with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result stay at home and avoid contact with other household members as much as possible.

It may be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others in their household. Not all these measures will be possible if you are living with children or have caring responsibilities, but follow this guidance to the best of your ability in these circumstances.

Stay at home and arrange a COVID-19 test

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 stay at home and start to self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms start and arrange to have a COVID-19 test.

Stay at home while you are waiting for a home test kit or a test site appointment. You may need to leave your house to visit a COVID-19 test site or in certain circumstances, but do not leave your home for any other reason, and only exercise within your home, garden or private outdoor space.

Avoid contact with other household members as much as possible. This helps prevent the spread of the virus to family, friends and the wider community, particularly those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

If you do not have symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19, stay at home for 10 days from the day the test was taken. This is because you can still pass the infection to others. If you do develop symptoms after your test, restart the 10-day period from the day your symptoms develop.

Follow the general advice to reduce the spread of the infection within your household.

If you have a positive COVID-19 test result

If your test result is positive, you must continue to self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started, or when your test was taken. Anyone who is notified that they have tested positive for COVID-19 and advised to self-isolate has a legal duty to self-isolate. Failure to comply may result in a fine, starting from £1,000.

You will receive a request by text, email or phone to log into the NHS Test and Trace service website and provide information about recent close contacts. This information will be used to give public health advice to your contacts, but they will not be told your identity.

It is very important that you provide this information, as it will play a vital role in helping to protect your family, friends and the wider community. It is now an offence to knowingly provide false information about your close contacts to NHS Test and Trace and failure to comply with these requirements may result in a fine.

If you have a negative COVID-19 test result

A negative result means the test did not find COVID-19 at the time the test was taken.

If you have a negative test result, you can stop isolating as long as:

Anyone in your household who is isolating because of your symptoms can also stop isolating.

If your test result is negative but you still have symptoms, you may have another virus such as a cold or flu. You should stay at home until you feel well. Seek medical attention if you are concerned about your symptoms.

How to limit close contact with others in the household

Spend as little time as possible in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas. Avoid using shared spaces such as kitchens and other living areas while others are present and take your meals back to your room to eat.

Use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household where possible. If a separate bathroom is not available, try and use the facilities last, before cleaning the bathroom using your usual cleaning products. The bathroom should be cleaned regularly.

You should use separate towels from other household members, both for drying yourself after bathing or showering and for drying your hands. Keep your room well-ventilated by opening a window to the outside.

You can find more advice on reducing the risks from COVID-19 in your home at GermDefence.

Returning to your normal routine

You can return to your normal routine and stop self-isolating after 10 days if your symptoms have gone or if you continue to have just a cough or anosmia. This is because a cough or anosmia can last for several weeks once the infection has gone.

If you still have a high temperature after 10 days, stay at home and seek medical advice.

If you live with someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result

Stay at home

Stay at home for 14 days. This is because you may have been exposed to the virus and could pass it on to others, even if you don’t have symptoms. Do not leave your home unless in certain circumstances, and only exercise within your home, garden or private outdoor space.

Your 14-day isolation period starts from the day when the first person in your household developed symptoms. If you are isolating because someone in your house has had a positive test result but does not have symptoms, your 14-day period starts from the day their test was taken.

If for any reason you have a negative test result during your 14-day isolation period, this does not mean you can stop isolating. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could still pass the infection on to others. Stay at home for the full 14 days to avoid putting others at risk.

If you are identified as a contact and told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, you have a legal duty to self-isolate. Failure to comply may result in a fine, starting from £1,000. Parents or guardians are legally responsible for ensuring that anyone under 18 self-isolates if they test positive for COVID-19 and are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate.

Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should be supported to minimise their contact with other people in the household during this period, regardless of whether others have symptoms or not.

If you go on to develop COVID-19 symptoms

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 during the 14-day isolation period, arrange to have a COVID-19 test.

If your test result is positive, follow the advice for people with COVID-19. Stay at home for 10 days from the day that your symptoms started, regardless of where you are in your 14-day period.

If your test result is negative, you are still at risk of developing COVID-19 and should continue to stay at home for the full 14-day period. You could spread the infection to others during this time even if you do not have any symptoms.

Returning to your normal routine

If you remain well, you can return to your normal routine at the end of the 14-day period. You do not need to isolate for longer than 14 days, even if other household members develop symptoms during this period. However, the person with new symptoms should now self-isolate for 10 days. People in the household who remain well after 14 days are unlikely to be infectious.

Visitors to the household

Do not invite or allow social visitors to enter your home, including friends and family. If you want to speak to someone who is not a member of your household, use the phone, email or social media.

If you or a family member receive essential care in your home, carers should continue to visit and follow the provision of home care guidance to reduce the risk of infection.

All non-essential in-house services and repairs should be postponed until the self-isolation period is completed.

After the isolation period has ended

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will probably have developed some immunity to the disease. However, it cannot be guaranteed that everyone will develop immunity, or how long it will last. It is possible for tests to detect residual virus for some time after COVID-19 infection. Anyone who has previously received a positive test result for COVID-19 should only be re-tested within a 90-day period if they develop any new symptoms of COVID-19.

When you stop self-isolating, it’s important to continue to wash your hands regularly, wear face coverings in enclosed public places, and maintain distance from people outside your household.

If someone else in your household becomes unwell

If anyone in your household develops COVID-19 symptoms after their isolation period has ended, they should arrange to have a test and everyone in the household should follow the steps in this guidance again, even if they have had a positive COVID-19 test in the past.

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms again

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms at any point after ending your first period of isolation you and your household should follow the steps in this guidance again.

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms and had a positive test more than 14 days ago, you should arrange to have a new COVID-19 test. Stay at home while waiting for the test results.

If you had a positive COVID-19 test in the last 14 days, you do not need to have another test. You will still need to self-isolate for another 10 days after your symptoms start.

Reducing the spread of COVID-19 in your household

Everyone should take the following steps to reduce the spread of infection within their household.

Wash your hands

This is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 or passing it on to others. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose and before you eat or handle food. Clean your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.

Cover coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not into your hand.

Dispose of tissues into a rubbish bag and immediately wash your hands. If you have a carer, they should use disposable tissues to wipe away any mucus or phlegm after you have sneezed or coughed and then wash or sanitise their hands.

Cleaning your home to reduce spread of infection

Regularly clean frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and remote controls, and shared areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. This is particularly important if you have a clinically extremely vulnerable person in the house.

Use standard household cleaning products like detergents and bleach to clean your home as these are very effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces. Clean shared bathrooms each time they are used, especially the surfaces you have touched, using your usual bathroom cleaning products.

Cleaning cloths and personal waste such as used tissues and disposable face coverings should be stored in disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual external household waste bin. Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.

Use a dishwasher to clean and dry your crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them by hand using washing up liquid and warm water and dry thoroughly using a separate tea towel.

Laundry

To minimise the possibility of dispersing virus through the air, do not shake dirty laundry. Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. All dirty laundry can be washed in the same load. If you do not have a washing machine, wait a further 72 hours after your self-isolation has ended when you can then take the laundry to a public launderette.

Do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels.

Ventilate indoor areas

Keep indoor areas well-ventilated, especially shared living areas. If you have symptoms, stay in a well-ventilated room with a window to the outside that can be opened if this is possible. Keep the door closed.

Use a face covering

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test result, use a face covering when spending time in shared areas inside your home if possible. Used correctly, a face covering may help to protect others by reducing the transmission of COVID-19 but they do not replace the need to limit your contact with other household members.

Wearing a face covering may not be possible in every situation or for some people. Face coverings should not be worn by children under the age of 11, or people who cannot put on, wear or remove one because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability. You can find out more about how to use and make your own face coverings.

Caring for pets

COVID-19 in the UK is spread between humans. There is limited evidence that some animals, including pets, can become infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) following close contact with infected humans. At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.

Pet owners who have COVID-19 or who are self-isolating with symptoms should restrict contact with pets and wash their hands thoroughly before and after interacting with their pet.

Looking after your health and wellbeing

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing while staying at home

Staying at home for a prolonged period can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some people and that you or other household members may feel low. It can be particularly challenging if you do not have much space or access to a garden.

Remember to take care of your mind as well as your body and get support if you need it. There are many sources of support and information, such as guidance on looking after your mental health and wellbeing and on supporting children and young people.

Many people find it helpful to remind themselves why what they are doing is so important. By staying at home, you are helping to protect your friends and family, other people in your community and the NHS.

Things that you can do to help make staying at home easier:

  • keep in touch with friends and family over the phone or through social media
  • remember that physical exercise can be good for your wellbeing. Look for online classes or courses that can help you take light exercise in your home
  • plan ahead and think about what you will need to be able to stay at home for the full duration
  • ask your employer, friends and family for help to access the things you will need while staying at home
  • think about and plan how you can get food and other supplies, such as medication, that you will need during this period
  • check if your neighbourhood or local community has a volunteer system that could help bring you supplies or provide other support
  • ask friends or family to drop off anything you need or order supplies online or by phone, making sure these are left outside your home for you to collect
  • think about things you can do during your time at home such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
  • many people find it helpful to plan out the full 10 or 14 days. You may also find it helpful to plan in advance what you will do if, for example, someone in your household were to feel much worse

If you need medical advice

Health and care services remain open to help people with all health conditions, including COVID-19. Most people with COVID-19 will experience a mild illness which can be managed at home. Find out more about managing the symptoms of COVID-19 at home.

All routine medical and dental appointments should be cancelled while you are staying at home. If you are concerned or have been asked to attend in person during this time, discuss this with your medical contact first (for example, your GP or dentist, local hospital or outpatient service).

Seek prompt medical attention if your illness or the illness of someone in your household is worsening. If it is not an emergency, contact the NHS 111 online COVID-19 service or NHS 111 for other health conditions. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111.

If it is a medical emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 999. Inform the call handler or operator that you or someone in your household has COVID-19 or symptoms if that is the case.

Financial or other practical support

Self-isolation is one of the most important things we can do to help stop the spread of the virus and protect our friends and family, our community and the NHS. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, have received a positive test result, or have been told you are a contact with someone who has, self-isolation is the only way to guarantee you won’t pass COVID-19 to others. If you are told to isolate, you should do so straight away.

Ask your employer, friends and family for help to access the things you will need while staying at home. More information on accessing food and essential supplies is available.

Check if your neighbourhood or local community has a volunteer system that could help bring you supplies or provide other support. Ask friends or family to drop off anything you need or order supplies online or by phone, making sure these are left outside your home for you to collect.

If you are unable to work due to COVID-19, see guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions to find out about support available to you. You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you are required to stay at home and self-isolate. You will be eligible if you live in England and meet all the following criteria:

  • you have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
  • you are employed or self-employed
  • you cannot work from home and will lose income as a result
  • you are claiming at least one of the following benefits:
    • Universal Credit
    • Working Tax Credits
    • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
    • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Income Support
    • Pension Credit or Housing Benefit

Visit your local authority’s website for more information.

If you are breastfeeding

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive or are living in a household with someone who has COVID-19, you may be concerned about the infection spreading to your baby if you are breastfeeding.

The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breast milk or by being in close contact, however, this will be an individual decision. Talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP by telephone.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted through breast milk. However, COVID-19 infection can be passed on to a baby in the same way as it can to anyone in close contact with you. The current evidence is that children with COVID-19 get much less severe symptoms than adults.

If you or a family member are feeding with formula or expressed milk, sterilise the equipment carefully before each use. You should not share bottles or a breast pump with someone else.

You can find more information from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

People with learning disabilities, autism or serious mental illnesses

Not all these measures will be possible if you, or those you live with, have conditions such as learning disabilities, autism or serious mental illnesses. Follow this guidance to the best of your ability, whilst keeping yourself and those close to you safe and well, ideally in line with any existing care plans.

Legal requirements for self-isolation

You could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19, or if you are a contact of someone who has tested positive, and you are notified by NHS Test and Trace that you need to self-isolate.

It is also an offence to knowingly provide false information about your close contacts to NHS Test and Trace.

Failure to comply with these requirements may result in a fine of up to £10,000. These regulations only apply in England

Current government advice is for everyone to try and stop unnecessary contact with other people – 'social distancing'. This includes: working from home where possible , avoiding busy commuting times on public transport , and avoiding gatherings of people, whether in public, at work or at home. Employers should support their workforce to take these steps. This might include: agreeing to more flexible ways of working, for example changing start and finish times to avoid busier commuting times , allowing staff to work from home wherever possible , cancelling face-to-face events and meetings and rearranging to remote calling where possible, for example using video or conference calling technology.

 

Working from home

Where work can be done at home, the employer could ask staff who have work laptops or mobile phones to take them home so they can carry on working or arrange paperwork tasks that can be done at home for staff who do not work on computers. If an employer and employee agree to working from home, the employer should pay the employee as usual , keep in regular contact , check on the employee’s health and wellbeing.

Shielding for the extremely vulnerable

Some people will receive a letter from the NHS to say they must take extra steps to protect (or 'shield') themselves because of an underlying health condition. This is for people who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. If an employee receives a letter telling them to start shielding, they will need to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.Employers should support staff following shielding guidelines. This might be a distressing or difficult time, so it’s important for employers to keep in touch during any absence. Any details about the employee’s medical condition must be kept confidential, unless the employee says it can be shared.

Vulnerable people

The government has issued guidance that strongly advises people who are at a higher risk of catching coronavirus ('vulnerable people') to take strict social distancing measures.

Employers must be especially careful and take extra steps for anyone in their workforce who is in a vulnerable group. They include, but are not limited to, those who:

  1. have a long-term health condition, for example asthma, diabetes or heart disease, or a weakened immune system as the result of medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy.
  2. are pregnant.
  3. are aged 70 or over.
  4. care for someone with a health condition that might put them at a greater risk.

 

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