SCODP will try to provide you with as much useful up to date information in one place as we can. We ensure the information comes from reliable sources and will refer to other sites and information where we think this will be helpful.
If there is a specific issue you would like us to look at or if there is specific information you need, please do get in touch with us at: mailto:Brenda.Joyce@scodp.org.uk and we will do our best to find the information for you.
Do keep well and anything we can do, please just ask.
Information and advice for direct payments users in Suffolk
We have set up a separate page to bring you information, advice and support for all issues around direct payments during this difficult time.
Please click here to go to the direct payments page: http://www.scodp.org.uk/direct-payments/
Care Act and other changes
We have given below information which we have received from Disability Rights UK. We thanks to DRUK for providing timely updates.
Coronavirus Act passes into law
Despite DR UK and other disability organisations opposing the removal of rights for disabled people, the Coronavirus Act came into law on 25 March. It gives government the power to suspend rights to care and support if the pandemic reaches crisis point.
It is important to remember that all rights to care and support continue to apply now.
The Act also enables the government to reduce safeguards for those being detained under the Mental Health Act and weaken duties to support children with additional needs. Again, current rights still apply. You can read the details of what is proposed here: https://www.communitycare.co.uk/2020/03/22/coronavirus-bill-allow-ministers-suspend-key-care-act-duties-event-pandemic-emergency
Guidance for residential care, supported living and home care
On 13 March the Department of Health and Social Care brought out guidance on some areas of care. The guidance covered the need for personal protective equipment, disposal of waste and the requirement to isolate people with coronavirus within Care Homes. The guidance provided no advice for disabled people managing their own care through direct payments or for people receiving care from friends and family. See latest guidance:
Support needed for disabled people using PAs
DR UK is working with government and other charities to find a way to ensure that Personal Assistants can carry ID that will be recognised by supermarkets, schools and other service providers to grant them priority at this time. We have made representation to the Department of Health and Social Care and are awaiting its response.
Disabled people employing PAs have also asked for greater flexibility in how they can spend direct payments if their current arrangements break down. Those working with PAs should advise their local authority that contingency plans are needed, and for people receiving personal health budgets, their Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
We are concerned that it’s not always easy for PAs to obtain protective clothing and equipment, either on the free market or from employers. As PA work with the most vulnerable groups of people, it is essential that they be afforded the protection they need.
We are pleased to see a call from the Local Government Association asking the government to consider asking retired care workers to come back to work, in the same way they have for NHS staff. DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “We know there has been a shortfall of care staff in the sector for many years and this has been compounded by the current crisis, where carers are going to be off sick. We welcome this call to boost numbers in this vital workforce.”
Food parcels for ‘extremely vulnerable’
The government has set up a web page where people can register to have food delivered if they meet specific eligibility criteria relating to their medical condition: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable
Alongside this, key military officials, community pharmacies, voluntary groups and food retailers are all in talks with the government to ensure essential items reach people being told to remain in their homes for twelve weeks. The government has also put out a call for a vast network of volunteers for the NHS, to which 500,000 people have responded. DR UK’s Fazilet Hadi said: “We are heartened by the response but have concerns about the lack of screening of volunteers, and will be seeking clarification about how some of the most vulnerable people in the country will be protected.”
DR UK raises food parcel eligibility concerns
DR UK believes the conditions covered in the criteria are too limited, and that they should be widened to include many other disabilities which affect immunity and mobility.
DR UK’s Kamran Mallick said: “We know of many people with various conditions who are practising rigorous shielding right now. We would ask that the government extends the medical conditions covered and also enables people to self-identify if they are in need.”
We are working on this issue with the charity National Voices, whose Chief Executive Charlotte Augst has gained assurance from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer that they are working with the Royal Colleges and professional societies to increase the eligible condition groups.
Changes to the benefits system
There have been big changes to the benefits system.
Face to face benefits assessments have been cancelled for (at least) three months. More information can be found here: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/march/face-face-benefits-appointments-cancelled
PIP and ESA assessments have been cancelled for three months: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/march/pip-and-esa-reviews-and-reassessments-suspended-next-three-months
The Government has published guidance on Statutory Sick Pay, job centre appointments, health assessment appointments, changes to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits, Local Housing Allowances and Housing Benefit here: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/
For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.’
People who need to claim universal credit or employment and support allowance because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note or an isolation note.
In addition, the government advises that the note can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online, and that:
“’After answering a few questions, an isolation note will be emailed to the user. If they don’t have an email address, they can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to their employer. The service can also be used to generate an isolation note on behalf of someone else.’”
Suspension of the Care Act
CASCAID have kindly provided a comprehensive and straightforward guide to the suspension of the Care Act. The guide can be found here: The-Emergency-Powers-Bill-as-it-affects-the-Care-Act
Time to Join
Online fun groups
SCODP are going to be running a series of online groups over the next few weeks and longer if you want them. Starting on Monday 23rd March between 10:30 and 11:30 we will be running Zoom meetings. What are Zoom meetings I hear you ask? Well Zoom is on online video platform which is a fancy way of saying we can all see and hear each other. It is really simple, a couple of clicks of a mouse is all that is required. To make that even easier, when you let us know you would like to join in we will send you an email with a link. Click on the link and it will take you to the meeting – how easy is that.
Email mailto:email@example.com or fill in the contact form (tab above which says: contact).
What are the groups:
Monday 23rd March:
Sanity Check – share our ideas on wellbeing during this period of isolation. Kathy will be sharing her strategy of staying well with her owl, crow and her dog Rex who no doubt will be joining in the session. Tell us what your are doing – let’s share some ideas on what could work for all of us.
Tuesday 24th March
Stitch and Bitch – do you craft? Knitting, painting, leatherwork, quilting, adult colouring or anything else – come along and let’s share ideas and maybe exchange tips and hints. Teach new ideas, pick each others brains and just have fun.
Even if you do not ‘craft’ come along and have a chat, cup of tea (provided by you!) and meet some new people.
Rules of engagement:
- Open to all
- Respect each other – everyone has the right to speak and the right to be listened to
- Listen when others are talking
- No bad language, racism, sexism, disableism, homophobic or other discriminatory action by gesture or word.
- Respect each other.
Anyone breaking the rules will be silenced by the administrator and will not be allowed to join other groups in future. These rules are for the benefit of all and to ensure we are inclusive of anyone who wants to join us.
Further groups will be advertised each day.
Look forward to speaking/seeing you online next week.
Would you like to talk or a friendly email?
Many of the staff and volunteers at SCODP are disabled people. We know from personal experience that being isolated either with the virus or to stay safe can be a difficult time. We want people to know we are here for you.
If you are feeling lonely, worried or would just like someone to talk to, please do get in touch with us. We are happy to talk and can have a one off conversation or we can ring you regularly as you wish. To get in touch please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and telephone number if you would like us to call. We can also offer email contact on a regular basis if you would prefer.
Do get in touch. Let’s support each other as much as we can.
Online and in store shopping
A shopping hour for older/disabled people and online priority
Many of the supermarkets are now beginning to offer priority shopping times for older and disabled people who are vulnerable.
From Monday 23rd March Sainsbury’s will be dedicating 8am – 9pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers and all who work in the NHS and Social Care.
Will be offering a dedicated hour for older and disabled people who are vulnerable between 9 am and 10 am every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
We will update with other supermarkets as we find them.
We all know how difficult it is to buy hand sanitisers. Why not have a go at making your own. One of our members shared the following recipe with us.
- The Process:
Fill your bottle two thirds full of alcohol
At least 60% of the solution needs to be alcohol
- Add the essential oils:
10-15 drops of essential oils that you like
- Top up with aloe vera gel
Fill the remainder of the bottle with aloe vera gel. The aloe vera will make the solution gentler on your skin but don’t overdo it or you’ll risk diluting the mixture.
- Give it a mix
Simply shake the bottle and throw into your handbag, ready for action.
Do exercise common sense when using your home-made sanitiser. For example, do not expose hands to a naked flame and always do a partch test first to make sure your sanitiser does not cause skin irritation.