Coronavirus Update – August 2021

Covid19 VaccineThankfully the need for our Coronavirus Updates is diminishing, but we are aware from our conversations with you that there is quite a bit of confusion around whether you can still catch Covid-19 after you have been vaccinated (especially given that levels are still high throughout the UK) as well as when to isolate and which of the tests for Covid-19 you should take, depending on your circumstances and symptoms.

Dr Susan Brennan, one of the Trust’s Medical Advisers has put together this Q&A for you, which will hopefully help to clarify matters.

Vaccinated Staff

All staff at the Trust have now had both their vaccines, which is something we are all very happy about.

HNAs and Beneficiary Visits

Many of you know that we are out and about doing HNAs and these are going really well. We take sensible precautions and regular tests before the visits to keep all of us safe. There are times however that either the staff member or the beneficiary may be ‘pinged’ to say they have been in close contact with someone with the virus so, wherever practical, we will be making a back-up plan to carry out the HNA by Zoom if a visit can’t go ahead as planned.

Thank You Payments for PAs in Scotland and Northern Ireland

Both the Scottish and Northern Ireland governments have introduced thank you payments to recognise the valuable contribution made by carers during the pandemic.

We are not aware of any plans to introduce similar schemes in England or Wales but we will keep checking and let you know if these are announced.

In Scotland:

Personal Assistants may be entitled to a thank you payment of up to £500 from the Scottish Government and are encouraged to claim for this payment in recognition of their work in the on-going fight against Covid-19.  The deadline for submissions is midnight on Wednesday 25 August 2021.

A dedicated online and paper-based application form was launched on Wednesday 30 June 2021 to pay Personal Assistants who are eligible to receive a payment. A person is eligible:

  • if they are directly paid by the social care support recipient or the person who is acting for a social care support recipient, who receives funds to pay Personal Assistants from Independent Living Fund Scotland or from a local authority or Health and Social Care Partnership through Option 1 Social Care (Self Directed Support) Act 2013


  • if they worked over a continuous 4-week period between 17 March 2020 and 30 November 2020 - this is the qualifying period


  • if they are a Personal Assistant for an adult, aged 16 years and over

Eligible individuals include those who:

  • work full-time or part-time
  • are subject to a permanent or temporary contract
  • are subject to a zero hours or flexible employment contract

Under this guidance, it is only those support packages, which are already enabled by a local authority in Scotland or by the Independent Living Fund Scotland, which are eligible for the £500 payment to their staff.

Full guidance and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) can be found on the Scottish Government website.

The link to apply is here.

The application process will be supported with a helpline provided by Self-directed Support Scotland (SDSS): 0800 841 1321.

In Northern Ireland:

In Northern Ireland the Department of Health recognise the fact that beneficiaries of the Trust often use their Health Grants to pay for assistance and that many relied on extra support from carers, particularly during the early days of the pandemic. Their eligibility criteria, therefore, makes specific reference to thalidomide and includes the statement:

“Personal Assistants employed through the use of Direct Payments or payments from the Independent Living Fund or Thalidomide Fund will be eligible for the payment.”

There is less clear guidance available for Northern Ireland but some can be found here.

The process to apply for the payment in Northern Ireland has not yet been finalised but we will update those beneficiaries who live there when we have more information.