Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Information for care providers

The Council highly values the contribution of the independent and 3rd Sector, never more so than in these challenging and unprecedented times. 

We appreciate that operating services under the current circumstances is extremely pressurised and we want to make sure that our lines of communication are clear to allow you to advise of us challenges you may be facing in relation to this. 

We will communicate key messages to providers in a number of ways:

If you have not been receiving emails from Strategic.Commissioning please send us an email so that we can make sure that we have the correct details for your organisation.

We ask that if Providers are communicating with us they use the email address so that we can co-ordinate responses across Cumbria in a strategic way and make sure messages are being answered should individual staff members be unavailable.  If your query relates to safeguarding or the urgent and/or critical care delivery to an individual please direct queries to your local Single Point of Access (SPA) Officer, Brokerage Team or Children Safeguarding Hub who should be able to help.

Contact Adult Social Care

Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership

In line with national guidance Unity, the provider of substance misuse services in Cumbria, will be making some changes to the services that they provide in order to protect the health and wellbeing of users and staff:

Communication with service users

Wherever possible all communication with individual service users will be by telephone, with a contingency plan for each service user, reflected in their risk management plan. This includes plans for self-isolation and continued support. 

Opiate substitution therapy

The majority of service users receiving opiate substitution therapy (methadone or buprenorphine) will receive their supply on a weekly basis rather than daily.  All service users will receive information from Unity regarding the changes to their prescription and will also receive information and support regarding the safe use, transportation and storage of medication.   Users will be given supplies of Naloxone which can be used in case of overdose.

Service users with symptoms of Covid 19 

Anyone beginning to show signs of Covid 19 should self isolate and contact their local substance misuse service (numbers below) to arrange for a friend or family member to pick up their medication.    

Highly vulnerable users

Service users who have received a letter from the NHS indicating that they are particularly vulnerable to Covid 19 because of their general health or an existing health condition should contact their local Unity office to discuss their care going forward.

Local Unity contact numbers

  • Barrow-in-Furness:  01229 207020
  • Carlisle and Eden:  01228 212060
  • Kendal:  01539 742780
  • Whitehaven:  01946 350 020
  • Workington:  01900 270 010

New 24hour, 7 days a week Helpline : 01204 483071

Wherever possible, for questions about their individual care, service users should contact their local service during office hours as they will be able to talk to staff who are familiar with their individual  care.  However, if they are unable to contact their local service or feeling anxious or worried at evenings or weekends, they can contact a new telephone helpline which will be open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This service may have a high demand so users are encouraged to keep trying.

Online and telephone resources 

Narcotics Anonymous 0300 999 1212 

Alcoholics Anonymous 0800 917 7650 

Cocaine Anonymous 0300 111 2285 or 0800 612 0225 

Adult Children of alcoholics 


SMART Recovery 

Breaking Free 

1) Visit Breaking Free website  

2) Select: SIGN UP 

3) Use gmmh2020 to complete the required fields. 

Frequently Asked Questions

During this period of the COVID-19 outbreak please use the mailbox we will reply to your email as promptly as we can. Please be aware we are receiving very high volumes of contacts at present.

If your matter relates to the urgent wellbeing/safety of an individual you are supporting:

For Adult Social Care

For Childrens and Families

Further details can be found on the government website which also includes details of their job retention scheme.

Free distribution of fluid repellent facemasks from the NHS Pandemic Flu Stock started on Wednesday 18 March, with every care home and home care provider receiving at least 300 facemasks.  This first tranche of distribution should have been complete by Tuesday 24 March.   This was aimed at tiding over the initial rise in demand following the change of guidance on facemasks. 

National agencies are working rapidly with wholesalers to ensure a longer-term supply of all aspects of personal protective equipment, including gloves, aprons, facemasks and hand sanitiser.  

You should however continue to order PPE from your usual suppliers.  If care providers have immediate concerns overs supply of PPE, there is now a dedicated line for you, the health and social care sector as set out below:

The National Supply Disruption line
Telephone: 0800 915 9964

In the future, if a care provider is unable to get PPE from their normal supplier, the supplier will be asked to report this to the National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR) team (as above), who can advise on alternative suppliers.

As a Local Authority we are escalating the serious concerns providers have regarding PPE and trying to find solutions to these, this is however currently proving very challenging.

If you do have concerns about your very immediate supply of PPE then you can report this to (assuming you have already contacted the National Supply Disruption line) to and we will do all that we can to escalate and support your issue.

If you are in receipt of direct payments and use these for a personal assistant who does not already receive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the NHS and who does not live in your home then you can access PPE through Cumbria County Councils Emergency PPE Helpline. The helpline can be contacted between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm at the weekend. The number for the Emergency PPE Helpline is 0800 783 1967.

The government has issued guidance on this for providers. It is important that providers regularly checks the government websites for the latest information on the use of PPE.

You should treat a client as having suspected coronavirus if they have either of:

  • a high temperature - this means they feel hot to touch on their chest or back (you/they do not need to measure their temperature) or
  • a new, continuous cough - this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if they usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

You should make sure that:

  1. The client gets any appropriate medical care they may need. Use the NHS 111 online service, or call 111 from any telephone. You can also contact the client's GP.  For life-threatening emergencies, call 999 and ask for an ambulance. If you are not sure if it is life-threatening, use the link above and work through the 111 coronavirus service (scroll down the page to find this). This includes information about life-threatening issues. Encourage the client to rest, drink plenty of fluids and keep warm
  2. The client should stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of symptoms. Other household members need to self-isolate for 14 days
  3. You follow the guidance on appropriate PPE for clients with suspected coronavirus. Follow the locally-produced guidance on COVID PPE for domiciliary care (PDF 290KB)   
  4. You follow national guidance on home care provision

You may also wish to refer to the national PPE guidance.  Table 2 provides a useful summary relevant to home carers.

You  do not need to self-isolate if you have been caring for a client who has now developed symptoms of suspected COVID-19, unless you have symptoms of suspected coronavirus yourself. This is clearly stated in the national PHE guidance for employees, employers and businesses.  And in the new care home guidance

"…staff who come into contact with a COVID-19 patient while not wearing PPE can remain at work. This is because in most instances this will be a short-lived exposure, unlike exposure in a household setting that is ongoing. These are guiding principles and there should be an individual risk assessment based on staff circumstances, for example staff who are vulnerable should be carefully assessed when assigning duties, and where a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case is present in a care home, efforts should be made to cohort staff caring for that person."

There is always a risk that clients will have COVID-19 without symptoms, or may be about to develop symptoms, but currently appear well. Some individuals in this category will be infectious. While this is the case, the risk of transmission is much higher in someone who currently has symptoms, especially a cough and especially in the first 7 days of illness.  

It is important to note that in order for clients in this category to transmit the virus there will need to have been droplet spread (i.e. via coughing, sneezing, coming into contact with other bodily fluids) or spread via contaminated surfaces. 

All staff providing home care should already be following universal infection prevention control precautions, including enhanced precautions relating to coronavirus (for all clients). These include:

  1. Contacting service users before each visit to check if they have symptoms of possible coronavirus
  2. Following hand hygiene advice
  3. Using standard PPE when providing personal care (i.e. gloves and plastic aprons).

Please refer to local guidance on standard (non-COVID) advice regarding PPE use in clients who are otherwise well (PDF 217KB).

If followed, all of these measures will have already provided staff with a degree of protection. 

If the individual receiving care and support has symptoms of COVID-19, then the risk of transmission should be minimised through safe working procedures. Please refer to the previous question for further advice on this.

Our Public Health teams have also produced helpful guidance for providers when supporting people being discharged from hospital.

Hospital discharges to care homes (PDF 13KB)

Discharges from hospital to domiciliary care (PDF 11KB)

The government has produced a suite of documents on hospital discharges in relation to COVID-19

The Council is developing further plans. Currently the Council would like you to consider joint working arrangements and innovative ways of support. 

Should you have any offers or suggestions, please or email us at:

Information and guidance in relation to personal budgets and direct payments and a number of frequently asked questions that have and may arise due to Covid-19

This guidance has tried to capture the use of Direct Payments for both Children and Families and Adults however a number of questions relate specifically to either rather than both, consequently the questions have been split.

For those individuals who employ their own staff a useful source of information will be your insurance company. Some useful information about Direct Payments can be found in the links below.

To assist with these questions we have used the following definitions:

  • Self-isolating where someone has symptoms and needs to self-isolate following government guidance
  • Social distancing due to high risk. The person does not have symptoms but is choosing to strictly limit social contact as per government guidance
  • Shielding for those are potentially extremely vulnerable who have received a letter to tell them to stay at home (not even go out shopping or exercising) for 12 weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get tested, or get my Personal Assistant (PA) tested to see if we have Coronavirus?

How can I get tested?

Everyone in England can now access tests. If you have any of the symptoms of Coronavirus you must get a test as soon as possible to see if you have Coronavirus. All the tests that you can access need to be pre-booked. You can go to the NHS testing webpage to arrange a test.

Up to date information on the different testing sites in Cumbria and how to book a test

You need to get the test done in the first 8 days of having symptoms. On days 1 to 7, you can get tested at a site or at home. If you're ordering a home test kit on day 7, do it by 3pm. On day 8, you need to go to a test site - it's too late to order a home test kit.

How can my Personal Assistant (PA) get tested?

Personal Assistants (PA) who support individuals who use Direct Payments or Personal Health Budgets are essential frontline workers. If you have any of the symptoms of Coronavirus you must get a test as soon as possible to see if you have Coronavirus. If you have symptoms you need to get the test done in the first 8 days of having symptoms. On days 1 to 7, you can get tested at a site or at home. If you're ordering a home test kit on day 7, do it by 3pm. On day 8, you need to go to a test site - it's too late to order a home test kit.

If you are a PA and you support someone you can self-register for a test, or be referred by your employer. You can go to a drive through testing centre, walk through testing centre, or apply for a home delivered test. All these tests need to be booked in advance. In Cumbria there are also testing centres that are just for Health and Care Workers. Your employer would need to book a test for you at one of these centres using a form on the Testing sites in Cumbria website. A GP might also refer you to one of the testing centres for Health and Care workers.

More information on the Government's testing programme and home testing kits.

Free antibody testing is now available for PA's and anyone employed in adult social care. It's a voluntary blood test which detects antibodies to the COVID-19 virus to see if you have previously had the virus. The results of the antibody test will support academic research and will help to better understand COVID-19 and how it has spread. Antibody testing is available for adult social care staff through local NHS sites, there is also an at-home antibody test that you can book using this link: How to book a test

How can my Personal Assistant get a coronavirus vaccination?

At this stage access to vaccinations are still in the planning stage. However as a start we are asking all Personal Assistants to Register with DaCE. Once registered this information will be used to invite Individuals for a vaccination.

What is the position if my Personal Assistant is self-isolating?  

If your Personal Assistant is concerned that they may have Covid-19 they should use the NHS 111 coronavirus service. If they need to self-isolate at home, they should not visit and care for you or provide support until it's safe to do so. They should also follow the guidance on home care provision

If your Personal Assistant meets the eligibility criteria, for example if they earn an average of at least £120 per week, then they will be eligible to get paid Statutory Sick Pay if they need to self-isolate.

What is the position if an employer is self-isolating (has symptoms or has been in contact with someone who tested positive) and following government guidelines?
A Personal Assistant may need to provide essential support using full Personal Protective Equipment and a safe method of work. If they are not needed, then full pay should be paid for the period the employer is in isolation. If a Personal Assistant refuses to work, you should seek legal advice and contact your Social Worker.

What is the position if an employer is social distancing and has decided they do not want their Personal Assistant to work and their job role is not needed on a temporary basis? 
The government view is that your risk of contracting the virus is greatly reduced if you use the right PPE and put in place the right infection control measures as outlined by the Government. Employees are being encouraged to return to work if it is safe and appropriate. If your Personal Assistant was furloughed because of social distancing issues they should be able to return to work with the correct safety measures in place.  If you ask your Personal Assistant not to undertake their job role on a temporary basis Cumbria County Council's approach is that Personal Assistants should continue to be paid 100% from the existing direct payment. You should contact your Social Worker to agree this and you should not assume that your budget will continue to allow you to pay the Personal Assistant for leave that isn't agreed in the contract.

What is the position if a Personal Assistant was previously shielding or was furloughed and is nervous about returning to work or feels unable to return to work on safety grounds?
For those Personal Assistants who have been shielding or have been furloughed and where it is now safe for them to return, we would now anticipate them returning to work. Discussions should be held between the direct payment recipient and the Personal Assistant on the safety measures that will be put in place to ensure a safe environment.  However, a return to work may not be possible or appropriate in every situation as there are circumstances that could make it difficult for the Personal Assistant to return to work, or where it would not be safe for them to do so. If you're undecided or unsure, you should speak to your Social Worker who can provide further advice and support you in developing a plan that works for you.  

What is the position if a Personal Assistant does not want to go into work because they are worried about social distancing? 
You should speak to your Personal Assistant about their concerns and explain to them what has been put in place to support them to support you safely, in line with guidance. You may want to discuss tasks that can be undertaken, where social distancing is possible. However, there are some tasks where this will not be possible, for example if your Personal Assistant is providing personal care. In these circumstances it's important that your Personal Assistant wears the required PPE and follows the additional infection control procedures that are in place. Doing this can help to reduce fears. Support is available to you from your Social Worker or support organisation, to help you decide on the best course of action based on the circumstances.

Children and Families

Can direct payment users who are not able to get support either due to them self-isolating or the support workers/services not being available, bank the unused hours for extra support once the crisis is over? 
No, the unspent money cannot be banked beyond the permissible amount (12 weeks). However, a direct payment can be used in other ways to meet need. Direct payment users should contact their social worker or Education, Health, Care Plan (EHCP) co-ordinator to discuss.) 

Can additional support be provided?  
It has been agreed that extra support may be provided in some circumstances, but this can only be agreed on an individual basis. Families should contact their Social Worker or EHCP co-ordinator who will consider the request and take it to their manager for approval. 

With a direct payment for a child can parents pay themselves to provide direct care and support? 
During this time, short-term emergency changes may be needed. Families or close friends who live with you may be asked to provide support beyond any unpaid care and support they may already be willing and able to provide. They may be willing to provide additional support on a voluntary basis for a short period of time, for example when your Personal Assistant recovers from sickness. If you feel it is necessary for family members who live with you to become your paid care and support workers on a longer term basis, this needs to be discussed and agreed with your Social Worker or EHCP coordinator.  For short-term arrangements (in an emergency and where it's time-critical) you can put a suitable package of care and support in place that enables you to keep safe. However, you must advise your Social Worker or EHCP coordinator as soon as possible.

It has been agreed that there can be flexibility in relation to family members doing the support hours in certain circumstances but where do we stand with regard to DBS checks? 
DBS checks have been suspended at this time. If a child is being supported by a family member it is likely that this person already has unsupervised access to the child. It is still the parent's responsibility to be satisfied as far as possible that their child is safe.

Can parents use money in accounts to purchase sports equipment, games consoles and other communication platforms and activities to support the child?
As previously stated, if a family cannot access their usual support they should contact their social worker or EHCP co-ordinator to discuss what other supports may be available to them. Parents should provide details of what they request to purchase, the cost involved and how this will meet the child's needs.

Can direct payment workers be used to go shopping and deliver to families who are self-isolating?
Yes, if a worker cannot support the child directly due to the current circumstances, they may support the family in other ways in order to enable the family to manage. As long as the worker has not been furloughed.


Can an employer use their direct payment to employ a parent living in the same household to provide direct care?
During this time, short-term emergency changes may be needed. Families or close friends who live with you may be asked to provide support beyond any unpaid care and support they may already be willing and able to provide. They may be willing to provide additional support on a voluntary basis for a short period of time, for example when your PA recovers from sickness. If you feel it is necessary for family members who live with you to become your paid care and support workers on a permanent or longer term basis, this needs to be discussed and agreed with the LA. For short-term arrangements (in an emergency and where it's time-critical) you can put a suitable package of care and support in place that enables you to keep safe.

Can an employer, employ a member of their own family who does not usually live with them to provide care?
Yes, there are circumstances when a family member can be employed to support a family member. However, there is an expectation that this would need to be discussed with your social worker and agreed by Cumbria County Council. Ordinarily this would not be a parent or spouse.

What is the position if I am socially isolating and yet paying my personal assistant and want my needs met in the interim in an alternate way?
An individual has the option of using their existing direct payment to meet their needs in a different way, if in doing so there is an impact on their budget, they should discuss this with their social worker.

How do I get the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) my Personal Assistant needs?
You do not now need to use the funding in your direct payment to buy PPE needed as a result of Covid-19. If you employ a Personal Assistant, you are entitled to free PPE for your PA (where this is needed) until 31 March 2021. You can access PPE through Cumbria County Council's Emergency PPE Helpline. The helpline can be contacted between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am and 2pm at the weekend. The number for the Emergency PPE Helpline is 0800 783 1967.

If an Individual needs Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can they use their Direct Payment to purchase this? 
Yes, an individual can in current circumstances purchase PPE direct. If additional resource is required to do this contact your social worker.

What happens if an individual's costs increase as a result of Covid-19?
If there was any indication of increasing costs please contact a social worker as soon as practicable to discuss. It is a relatively easy process to increase a payment.

Will the County Council recouping of surplus funds be stopped during the crisis? 
The County Council has no immediate plans to recoup any surplus in the short term, however would expect individuals to use any surplus in line with their agreed support plan.

I currently use my Direct Payment to use a day service, however the day centre is shut / I am choosing not to attend, what should I do? 
You would firstly need to check the terms of your agreement with the service, you may be required to pay a cancellation fee. If you plan to remain at home and not seek an alternative way to meet your assessed needs, we would ask that you bank the Direct Payment and at the end of the crisis the County Council will reclaim the payment. We plan to use this to continue to fund someday services during the crisis so that when it is over, they have the staff to start delivering support immediately. If you need to use the direct payment to meet your needs during this period, please discuss with your social worker. 

Will my Direct Payment continue if I go into hospital? 
In general, your Direct Payment should continue. We understand that you might prefer some personal care tasks to be undertaken by your carer or PA, rather than hospital staff. This should be agreed with hospital staff and continued use of your direct payment can usually be allowed for this. 

Can I use my Direct Payments flexibly?
Yes, the latest guidance emphasises the flexible use of Direct Payments as long as they are meeting your assessed needs. If you change how you plan to use your direct payment, please discuss with your social worker. 

Can my Personal Assistant(s) get a regular Coronavirus Test?

Personal Assistants (PA's) can now get weekly Coronavirus test kits from NHS Test and Trace. To be eligible you must be providing care, which means that you have to go within 2 metres of an adult who is over the age of 18. You should be providing care and support to enable an individual to live as independently as possible and 

support can be provided either in the home, or to go out into the community. You can be directly employed, or self-employed and employers can also order tests on behalf of PA's. You can find out more at

Cumbria testing sites

Current information on COVID-19 testing sites for people across Cumbria

Who is eligible and self-referral

List of people eligible for testing and a link for people to self-refer for a test.


Further testing queries

If you have any further queries of concerns about infection prevention and control of the testing of staff or residents please contact the Council's Public Health Team's through its Infection Prevention and Control email address 


General Public Health queries

If you have any other general COVID-19 health related queries please contact the Council's Public Health Team's through 

There are a number of organisations that provide easy read information about Coronavirus and its impacts. 


Inclusion North

Learning Disability England

Additional Funding Support

Cumbria County Council continues to be both appreciative and supportive of commissioned providers who continue to deliver support in what are at times difficult circumstances. 

We are mindful of the potential additional cost pressures that COVID-19 can have on providers.  

The Council is currently reviewing how we intend to make use of existing and additional resources and is, at this time, considering requests for additional funding on a case by case basis, as per the PNN 02/20 guidance from central government.  In the interim we would ask that:

  • As an organisation, you make contact with the generic mailbox -, and make sure you are part of the Strategic Commissioning distribution list. The Council are using this mailbox as a single point of access to make sure any communication is responded to and that communication from the County Council is consistent to all provider organisations.
  • If there has been an impact on your costs in delivering continued support as a consequence of COVID-19, then as per the government guidance mentioned above, please set out and quantify those impacts clearly in an email to We will, in turn, send you a pro forma to complete to support your request for any additional funding.

Any communication in relation to the County Councils approach to COVID-19 will be shared through this single point of access.

Financial support for providers by Cumbria County Council

Details of financial support to Providers in response to Covid-19 (as at 31 May 2020) 

Domiciliary care  


Residential care  


Other provision  


Total spent to 3 May 2020 in response to COVID-19  


Support being offered2721,4176912,380

In addition, a range of joint measures are in place to support local market resilience in Cumbria during the COVID-19 pandemic. Joint measures have a particular focus on the following areas: 

  • Daily information collection to assess the state of the local market
  • Managing COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes
  • 24/7 Emergency Response line for care providers
  • Access to and supply of emergency PPE
  • Support with workforce shortages and other related issues
  • Access to and coordination of testing facilities for care home residents and staff
  • Support for provider financial pressures, including for care homes, domiciliary, supported living, day service and transport providers
  • Access to information and guidance supporting the COVID19 situation for staff, providers and residents and families

Government Infection Control Grant

As part of the ongoing support to the care sector the Government announced on the 15 May 2020 £600m Infection Control funding for care homes.

All CQC registered care home owners and / or registered managers should have received a letter from the Minister of State for Care, Helen Whately MP, dated 14 May 2020 which sets out the expectations and requirements associated with this fund.

The Infection Control Fund grant will be paid to Cumbria County Council by Central Government  in 2 equal installments; 

  • Payment 1: May 2020 
  • Payment 2: July 2020

The grant conditions state local authorities should pass 75% of each month's funding to care homes within the local authority's geographical area on a 'per beds' basis, including to social care providers with whom the local authority does not have existing contracts.

The local authority has the discretion to allocate the remaining 25% of that month's funding to care homes or to domiciliary care providers and to support wider workforce resilience in relation to COVID-19 infection control.  

All funding must be used for COVID-19 infection control measures. 

Grant conditions set by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) (PDF 365KB)

75% Direct Allocation to care homes

A significant portion of this funding is due to be dispersed directly to care homes in England. In accordance with the conditions attached to the funding, Cumbria County Council will make 2 payments to all care home providers in early June and July 2020 on a per bed basis (based on May 2020 CQC registration data) as set out in the Infection Control Fund letters sent to all care homes in June 2020.

To ensure that care homes receive this funding they must be registered on the NHS Capacity Tracker, have recently updated their information and must commit to updating the NHS Capacity Tracker on a regular basis.

All Care Homes in receipt of the grant must provide the Council with their first Infection Control Fund return no later than 22 June 2020. 

Further guidance can be found in the following documents:

25% Discretionary Allocation

Cumbria County Council is able to use 25% of the Infection Control Fund Grant on other Covid-19 infection control measures, including payments to domiciliary care providers or wider workforce measures. 

These wider measures could include, for example:

  • additional financial support for the purchase of personal protective equipment by providers or by the local authority directly (although not for costs already incurred); or
  • measures the Council has put in place to boost the resilience and supply of the adult social care workforce in Cumbria in order to support effective infection control.

If providers require financial support with infection control measures which they feel fit the grant conditions, they should follow the established Additional Funding Support process (set out above).