Residents in North Yorkshire who fund their own care have received extra help and support to get through the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have stepped up help for over 1,000 people across the county who receive direct payments or individual service funds to fund their own bespoke care package.

The crisis has meant that many receiving these payments are not able to access their usual support either because a service or centre they use is closed or because their personal assistants are self-isolating.

“It’s a very anxious time for people who use direct payments or individual service funds,” said Richard Webb, the County Council’s Corporate Director for Health and Adult Services. “Covid-19 presents real challenges for them in their daily lives and also as either employers, or co-ordinators, of their own care teams.”

We have ensured that its direct payment liaison advisors keep in constant touch with people and, in many cases, officers have been able to mitigate risks and enable care to continue.  They have helped to access PPE on a priority needs basis so that where possible personal assistants have been able to continue their support. They have also provided advice as to how budgets can be used differently to access equipment or to pay for family and friends to take over care where this is the safest alternative.

In one case where a person using direct payments was hospitalised with Covid-19, county council staff supported the whole process of discharge, accessing PPE for the person’s personal assistants so they could return safely home.

“Staff have invested a lot of time during this crisis to develop strong relationships and a good level of trust so that people using direct payments for their care are not left to manage this very difficult situation on their own” said Richard Webb.

For Antoinette Bland who lives in Askrigg, her direct payment advisors have been a lifeline during the Covid-19 lockdown. Her husband Neil, who is a consultant chartered surveyor has multiple sclerosis and though he continues to work needs intensive support. With the use of direct payments he was able to employ five carers a day to support his needs, 

Antoinette said: “Neil’s condition has deteriorated markedly. Professionally he is very respected in his field but he needs intensive help. I have osteoporosis and have suffered multiple fractures in my back so the carers provide constant and essential support.  When lockdown was coming I contacted our direct payment advisors because we needed to isolate and could no longer have all the carers coming in and out. I didn’t know what to do. 

“The advisors saved the day.  They helped us keep the payments going so we could retain all our carers even though only one of them could actually work with us to maintain distancing and safety. My brother came to be a live-in unpaid carer during isolation but we had peace of mind that our usual carers could be retained so they would be ready to work with us again when we came out of lockdown. 

“Our advisors ring us every week and have also helped us with supplies of PPE. We have felt so very well supported through this very difficult time.”