CORONAVIRUS: Frequently Asked Questions
The information on Coronavirus on these web pages has been written and compiled by Reaching Families and West Sussex Parent Carer Forum using trusted local and national resources. Given the picture is changing regularly we cannot take responsibility for the information or any actions taken as a result. Please visit the Government website for the most up to date information.
Last updated: 9th February 2021 : 5:00 pmsee also Coronavirus Information >> Stay Connected >>
What are the rules on staying at home and away from others?
The current Government advice aims to reduce transmission of the virus.
You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:
- shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
- go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- exercise with your household (or support bubble - A support bubble is a support network which links two households. You can form a support bubble with another household of any size only if you meet the eligibility rules.) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
- meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one. (If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare. You must not meet socially with your childcare bubble.)
- seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- attend education or childcare - for those eligible
If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local - unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work. Stay local means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.
Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.
You cannot see members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time.
Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early years settings remain open. Higher Education provision will remain online until mid-February for all except future critical worker courses.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you are advised to follow shielding guidance. It is recommended that you do not attend work, school, college or university. You should limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.
Remember - ‘Hands. Face. Space.’
- hands – wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
- face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
- space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)
You should avoid all non-essential meetings and interactions. In all circumstances, you should follow the guidance on meeting others safely.
Everyone must comply with these measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus and there are new variants of this which cause concern, mainly because they have caused it to become even more infectious.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. Find out more from the World Health Organisation.
We know that families caring for a child with SEND may be particularly worried about the COVID-19 coronavirus. We therefore wanted to share some information for parents and carers that might help. You can access current UK Government Guidelines and advice here.
What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?
Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms:
- A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- A new continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
Should I go to the doctor if I have any symptoms?
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 however mild, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – go to testing to arrange. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), then you must stay at home for 10 days or longer until your temperature is normal, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 10 days. The 10-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. If they subsequently develop symptoms they must get a test and start their 10-day self isolation period from the day they develop symptoms.
If you get worse or your symptoms last longer than 10 days you should call NHS 111.
What should I do if my child gets unwell during this time?
Medical professionals are urging us to still consult with our GP’s or other members of medical teams if you have any health concerns, while being cautious not to overload the NHS by avoiding dangerous activities and considering which is the most appropriate response for situations. This poster was produced by The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, it may be worth downloading or saving as a quick reference guide.
Call 111 if you are worried about a baby or child under 5.
If your child seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there is something seriously wrong, call 999.
Am I or my child in a “vulnerable group”?
For information on whether you fall into the extremely vulnerable group, and what action you should take, check here. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have researched and summarised here those groups of children who may be at higher risk.
If you think you have developed symptoms of COVID-19 such as a new, continuous cough or fever, seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.
Is Covid information available in any other languages or an easy to read format?
Yes, the Government website has links to information and advice translated into several additional languages, including a large print and easy read format.
Am I eligible to get the Covid Vaccine?
Yes, Parent Carers (as part of the Unpaid Carers population) have been added to priority group 6 (all individuals aged 16 to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease). This document written by local Carers organisations gives more information about the covid vaccine for carers.
Current advice is not to contact your surgery to request the vaccine, you will be invited to your appointment when you are eligible. However, you may want to email your surgery to ensure they know you are a carer & mark your record with a ‘carers flag’. Including this link and referring to Footnote 3 will highlight to the surgery that updated Government advice does include unpaid carers. We strongly advise you not to phone as GP surgeries are generally under extreme pressure at this time.
If I register with Carers Support will that mean I can get a vaccine?Although registering with Carers Support gives you access to many support services, and we do recommend you do so, it will not mean you are registered to receive the vaccine or given quicker access to the vaccine. As above, this can only be achieved if you are registered with your GP as a carer.
Is my child eligible to get the Covid vaccine?
The Government believe that most children under 16 are low risk from covid and advises that only “those children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities in residential care, should be offered vaccination.” The government is expected to publish more guidance on vaccinating children as safety trials are done and more types of vaccine become available.
Can our PA’s get the Covid Vaccine?
Personal Assistants may be able to access a vaccine as a frontline home health care worker, who are included in priority group 2, however the Guidelines do refer to adult health and social care staff, so coverage of carers working with children may be discretionary while they prioritise the most vulnerable groups. Independent Lives and Continuing Health Care have provided information to families they work with, on how their PA’s might be able to access a vaccine.
Is the Covid vaccine safe and effective?
Yes, the covid vaccine is the safest way to reduce the risk of complications from Covid illness. The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by our MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency). Funding was made available to ensure the development and testing of these vaccines happened as quickly as possible.
If you are pregnant or trying for a baby: More evidence is needed before pregnant women will be routinely offered the COVID-19 vaccine. If this is relevant to you or for your PA’s, please discuss with your GP or midwife.
What side effects are there from the vaccine?
As with most vaccines, there may be mild side effects from the vaccine, such as a sore arm, a headache or feeling achey. The evidence shows that most side effects are mild and short-lived, lasting around a day, and severe side effects are very rare. The NHS website gives more details on the common side effects, how to treat them and what to do if you have other symptoms or are worried.You could have caught Covid before or after having the vaccine, so you should self-isolate and be tested if you develop any of the Covid symptoms.
Will I be immune to Covid-19 after having the jab?
The NHS website says that the first dose of the vaccine should give good protection from coronavirus, but you will need to have the 2 doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine, therefore you should continue to follow all the guidance and regulations on social distancing and PPE.
I need help or want to offer support, where can I go?
If you believe you are in a vulnerable group, or are having difficulty during this time, please register with the West Sussex Community Hub, which will help you to find support locally. You can also call on 033 022 27980, lines are open 8am to 8pm.
What should I do if I need to self-isolate?
You should follow the NHS advice about staying at home. Where possible you should try to get someone else to care for the child(ren) so that you can self-isolate in a separate room. You ideally need to keep two metres away from others, sleep in a separate bed, and use your own towels. Please see more advice here www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice.
West Sussex County Council have set up a Community Hub to register for or to offer help. You can also call them on 033 022 27980.
In addition to my child with SEND/underlying medical condition, I also care for an elderly relative. What should I do?
As both elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions are at greater risk we advise you to do all you can to minimise spread of the infection according to the latest NHS advice.
All carers are advised to create an emergency plan with the person/people they care for, to use in circumstances where help from other people to deliver care may be needed. Depending on the circumstances, this could be help from family or friends, or a care provider. In order to create an emergency plan that fits the needs of the person you care for, you will need to set out:
- the name and address and any other contact details of the person you look after
- who you and the person you look after would like to be contacted in an emergency
- details of any medication the person you look after is taking
- details of any ongoing treatment they need
- details of any medical appointments they need to keep
You should also ensure that it is in a format that can readily be shared with other people who will need to discuss the plan with the person you care for. Further information can be found at Carers UK.
You may be able to arrange help and support from family and friends, but it can be reassuring to have the involvement of your local authority (we suggest contacting the Community Hub - West Sussex Community Hub, or call 033 022 27980, lines are open 8am to 8pm - in the first instance if you don’t have a Social Worker) or healthcare provider in case informal arrangements fall through. You can contact Carers Support West Sussex for local information and advice.
There is further advice in this Government link, for unpaid carers offering care to families and friends.
Coronavirus is a real threat to vulnerable members of my family, should we consider an Advanced Care Plan or ReSPECT document for them?
There is a lot of information in the media about whether some people will get treatment if they need it because of Covid-19. There is a Clinical Frailty Score (CFS) system, which could be used to help Doctors make decisions on whether a person has a good chance of recovery if they receive intensive care treatment, or whether palliative care, where there comfort is the most important consideration, is more appropriate. This CFS system is primarily designed for older people, but it had raised concern that it puts children and adults with learning disabilities &/or medical conditions at a disadvantage in securing treatment.
The NHS Specialised Clinical Frailty Network was quick to make it clear it did not recommend the CFS be used for those with learning disabilities and other groups. “It [the CFS] may not perform as well in people with stable long term disability such as cerebral palsy, whose outcomes may be very different compared to older people with progressive disability. We would advise that scale is not used in these groups.” However, it said other aspects of the guidance – including discussing the risks and benefits of critical care support with patients, carers or advocates – were still relevant.
Therefore, discussing with your Doctor, Paediatrician or Specialist, whether an Advanced Care Plan, or a ReSPECT (Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment) document, might be worth considering, could be an option. These documents can take into account many different situations, and can focus on whether there is a progressive deterioration in health and quality of life, or whether that with the exception of acute illness, health is stable and quality of life is good. Your medical professional can provide advice and support with this, you may be able to request to speak to a Palliative Care team or discuss this with someone from the Hospice or Community Nursing Team if you are under one. There are also resources online that can help you to think about what treatment options you do and don’t want to consider.
Should I be asking my child’s doctor for additional medication for them at this time?
GPs and pharmacies are reassuring patients that medical supply chains are in place and working well but we have also read stories about shortages and delays. Check your child’s supply of medication now and, if you are worried about running out, you should call your GP surgery or Community Paediatrician and talk to them about reordering.
Should/can we stock up on personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene products or over the counter medicine? Can GPs help as some shops are already empty?
If you have care staff from an agency providing care to your home, they should continue to provide their own supplies of PPE and they should be able to order supplies as necessary through processes set up by Public Health England to respond to this pandemic.
The Government has produced guidelines for those receiving Direct Payments and this covers advice on PPE and where you may be able to access it. If you use Independent Lives for respite or Payroll services, you may be able to contact them for help to secure PPE supplies.
If you already get pain relief medication via prescription, you will be able to reorder this via your nominated pharmacy, otherwise you would have to contact your GP first to request it. If the big supermarkets don’t have any paracetamol or Calpol, try your local corner shop or convenience store. Alternatively, ask some of your neighbourhood or online networks.
My child has high anxiety/mental health issues and is very worried about the CV/Covid-19. What can I do to support them?
How a child or young person reacts can vary according to their age, how they understand information and communicate, their previous experiences, and how they typically cope with stress. Negative reactions may include worrying thoughts about their health or that of family and friends, fear, avoidance, problems sleeping, or physical symptoms such as stomach ache.
During this time, it’s important that you take care of your family’s mental health – there are lots of things you can do, and support is available if you need it.
Listen and acknowledge: Children and young people may respond to stress in different ways. Signs may be emotional, behavioural or physical. Look out for any changes in their behaviour.
Provide clear information about the situation: All children and young people want to feel that their parents and caregivers can keep them safe. The best way to achieve this is by talking openly about what is happening and providing honest answers to any questions they have. Explain what is being done to keep them and their loved ones safe, including any actions they can take to help, such as washing their hands regularly.
Be aware of your own reactions: Remember that children and young people often take their emotional cues from the important adults in their lives, so how you respond to the situation is very important.
Create a new routine: Life is changing for all of us for a while. Routine gives children and young people an increased feeling of safety in the context of uncertainty, so think about how to develop a new routine – especially if they are not at school.
Limit exposure to media and talk about what they have seen and heard: Children and young people, like adults, may become more distressed if they see repeated coverage of the outbreak in the media. A complete news blackout is also rarely helpful as they are likely to find out from other sources, such as online or through friends.
Reaching Families have worked with Jane Cross, Independent Trainer and Consultant, to produce a fact sheet on Understanding Anxiety in Children. It explains anxiety and discusses the current situation, as well as offering practical strategies to help.
There are easy to read, video resources and social stories explaining coronavirus for children and young people, for example:
I have high anxiety/mental health issues of my own and I am getting very anxious about the CV/Covid-19, what should I do/who can help me?
It is understandable to feel anxious in times like these.
Reaching Families can offer access to affordable (£10 per session/£5 if on work-related benefits) emergency TELEPHONE COUNSELLING for parents struggling with mental health issues. If you would like to make a self-referral to this service please complete the contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reaching Families are also offering free Mindfulness and Wellbeing zoom workshops which can be booked via Eventbrite.
My child has an EHCP, will they receive all their EHCP provision?
There were some temporary changes to the law on Education, Health and Care needs assessments and plans, which allowed local authorities, schools and health bodies some flexibility in timescales and provision of services. These changes ended on 31st July 2020 and then local authorities and health commissioning bodies would in all cases need to secure or arrange the full range of provision, as specified in the EHC plan.
“On occasion, there may be circumstances in which schools cannot offer your child their usual on-site provision because there are not enough staff or staff with the right training available. In those cases they will seek to resume as close as possible to your child’s usual provision as soon as possible. In these circumstances, schools should be in touch with you to discuss the right support for your child.” (from here)
My child has a place with a residential provider, can they remain there?
The Government has asked residential further education providers to keep their residential provision open where necessary, and decisions made on a case by case basis. It is especially important that residential providers remain open to those who have particular needs that cannot be accommodated safely at home, and those who do not have suitable alternative accommodation.
My child is entitled to go to school (& has a confirmed place during this time), will they still be entitled to transport and will they need to wear a face covering?
West Sussex County Council have stated:
- Children who travel on county council-provided transport (coach, minibus or taxi) should still have access to a full service, but due to possible staff shortages, some flexibility will no doubt be needed and appreciated.
- All parents who do not accompany their children to school are advised to have a contingency plan agreed with their child in case transport is late or does not arrive. This is particularly important at the moment.
My child is going through EHC needs assessment but does not have a draft EHCP, is this still being undertaken?
IPSEA have stated: “At 05/01/2021, the key point for parents/carers of children and young people with SEND to note is that none of the statutory duties of local authorities or schools under Children & Families Act 2014 or Equality Act 2010 have changed and we are not aware of any current proposal to relax any of these duties.
It is important that the statutory rights of children and young people with SEND continue to be preserved so that they can continue to receive the special educational provision they require during this period of upheaval – even if adjustments to the way some provision is delivered may need to be made. It is IPSEA’s hope that the protections of the Children and Families Act 2014 are not in any way weakened for the period of this new national lockdown.”
Can I request an EHC needs assessment at this time?
West Sussex SENDIAS have produced a “Top Tips” and more detailed guides on Making a parental request for an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment, which can be found on their website.
I have a SEND tribunal coming up, will it go ahead?SEND tribunals are going ahead during this Coronavirus time on paper or by phone or video. Special Needs Jungle have an article answering many questions and providing information. The Government has also produced technical advice on how to join these tribunals, if you have one scheduled.
Where can I go to get support to help keep my child safe online?
If you or your child are concerned about something they have seen online or have experienced any negative issues, you can report via the Internet Watch Foundation and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), details below:
Social Media: If children stumble across worrying or criminal content online, it should be reported to the Child Exploitation & Online Protection centre via the this link: www.ceop.police.uk/ceop-reporting
Child sexual abuse images: If criminal content is discovered online, it should be reported to the Internet Watch Foundation at www.iwf.org.uk/report. Criminal content in the UK includes child sexual abuse images, criminally obscene adult content as well as non-photographic child sexual abuse images.
Online terrorism: Terrorism related content should be reported to the police’s Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit at www.gov.uk/report-terrorism.
Hate speech: Online content which incites hatred on the grounds of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender should be reported to True Vision at www.report-it.org.uk.
Good hygiene should also be encouraged including wiping mobile devices with suitable cleaning products on a regular basis.
For more general information about ways to stay safe online, visit our web-pages
Credit for the above advice goes to Alison Hannant - Schools Safeguarding Adviser, Safeguarding in Education.
You can forward any suspicious emails to email@example.com The National Cyber Security Centre’s automated programme will immediately test the validity of the site and if found to be a phishing scam, it will be removed immediately.
The Trading Standards Scams Team run Friends against Scams, an online learning session that aims to empower people to take a stand against scams. It has recently been updated to cover coronavirus-related scams.The Cyber Aware Campaign offers advice for staying safe during this time.
My child is going to start back at school, how can I help them cope?
Some pupils with SEND (whether with education, health and care plans or on SEN support) will need specific help and preparation for the changes to routine that this will involve, so teachers and special educational needs coordinators should plan to meet these needs, for example using social stories.
There are many resources for helping children with return to school:
- Reaching Families have created an animation on Coronavirus and going back to school.
- The Royal College of Occupational Therapists have produced this top tips guide to help parent carers prepare their children for returning to school.
- 8 minute film to help deal with any potential apprehension or anxiety children may experience on returning to school.
- Transition resources for different age groups and for children with Autism, including social stories
- SchudioTV - Preparing Autistic & SEND Children for going back to school
If my child is eligible, is it compulsory for them to attend school?
Schools are currently closed to many pupils to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. If your child has been offered a place it is because they meet one or more of the criteria for a space set by the Government - being a child of critical workers or they are considered vulnerable. You do not have to accept a space at this time, but you should discuss with the school as this may be the best way to support your child with their learning or emotional needs.
Your child should not attend school if they are self-isolating and have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves, or because they are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19). If your child is unable to attend school or college for this reason, you should talk to your school or college about what support is in place in terms of remote education.
If your child or someone in your household is Clinically extremely vulnerable, you may be shielding again and should check the guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable for the current advice.
Some pupils no longer required to shield but who generally remain under the care of a specialist health professional may need to discuss their care with their health professional before returning to school (usually at their next planned clinical appointment).
Where children are not able to attend school as parents are following clinical and/or public health advice, the absence will not be penalised.
What advice and support is there for Siblings of Children with SEND?
At this difficult time, siblings will be spending far more time at home together than usual. This could be adding extra tension and creating more anxieties. Where possible, try to set aside some time for each child and help them to talk about their feelings, or acknowledge their concerns, but try to keep it age appropriate – see the questions above on anxiety. Keeping in contact with friends and other family members via technology is just as important as getting some exercise.
Reaching Families have produced a short narrated animation for Siblings of children and young people with additional needs.
YoungSibs have a website with lots of suggestions and advice.
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My child gets angry and can become violent, what can I do?
Reaching Families have worked with Jane Cross, Independent Trainer and Consultant, to produce a fact sheet on Challenging Behaviour during Coronavirus. It looks at what may be challenging behaviour, why it happens and ways to support good behaviours.
Young Minds offer support and advice to Parents, Children and Young People on many aspects of mental health, with additional resources for during this Coronavirus situation. One area that has been of concern for many families is the increased risk of violence while on lockdown. Young people with developmental issues may struggle to manage angry feelings. Children who have speech and language problems can get frustrated when they find it difficult to understand and communicate their emotions.
When a child or young person is very angry, they can get verbally or physically aggressive and even violent. YoungMinds provide the following advice:
“It can be hard to help them, especially when they say there is nothing wrong and that everyone else has the problem. If safe to do so for you and the child remove yourself from the room. If not safe to do so, and you feel that you or anyone else are at immediate risk of harm, warn the child that if the aggression does not stop you will contact the police and follow through if they do not stop.
Calling the police to intervene in a situation with your child is an incredibly difficult thing for any parent to have to do. If your safety, or the safety of other family members, is in question, this may be the only course of action. The police can be incredibly supportive in responding to mental health issues, and can section someone under the Mental Health Act, if appropriate.”
I’m worried about Domestic Violence, what can I do?
Anyone forced to change their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner or ex-partner’s reaction is experiencing abuse. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity. The lockdown imposed because of Coronavirus has increased the risk of domestic violence for some people.
Suggested actions if you are experiencing Domestic Abuse:
- Firstly, speak to a trusted neighbour, family member or friend and arrange a safe word and emoji that can be texted to them quickly in an emergency so they know to contact 999. Ask neighbours to call 999 if they hear arguments or violence. Keep phones topped up, charged and accessible.
- West Sussex County Council recommend downloading personal safety phone apps like Hollie, which can silently contact designated people with a shake or tap of a phone. It can also work if deceleration, impact or non-movement is detected.
- If you are in a situation where violence is escalating, try to move away from the kitchen where there are sharp or heavy objects and stay close to the exits or any lockable rooms you can barricade yourself in while you get help. If you are in immediate danger, call 999.
Safe in Sussex are a local charity that can offer advice and support, contact them Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4pm on 0330 333 7416, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found at www.safeinsussex.co.uk/
Domestic abuse is never the fault of the person who is experiencing it. Domestic abuse is a crime.
What support can we expect from Reaching Families and West Sussex Parent Carer Forum during this time?
The challenging times we find ourselves in requires Reaching Families to reinvent how it works, use technology and creativity to reach families in need and find new ways of ensuring parents and families in our community can stay connected. Building on our experience providing information, training and peer support we will be adjusting our work to offer parents and families the following wide range of support during the Coronavirus outbreak:
- We will continue to provide up-to-date INFORMATION on Coronavirus including researching and publishing a series of relevant FACT SHEETS for our families.
- We will deliver LIVE CHAT, TRAINING WEBINARS and VIDEOS on relevant subjects like anxiety, behaviour, food issues, resilience, home-schooling and resilience.
- We will provide affordable access to emergency TELEPHONE COUNSELLING for parents struggling with mental health issues.
- We will provide TELEPHONE BEFRIENDING to parents who would benefit from the emotional support and understanding of another parent-carer.
- We will host VIDEO CONFERENCING sessions on Zoom to allow our Umbrellas members to stay connected (new members are very welcome!).
- We will use our FACEBOOK GROUP to enable parents to stay connected and reach out for emotional and practical support including help with shopping, deliveries, etc.
- We will do everything we can…
In these times of uncertainty and change, WSPCF remains open for business, despite our office being closed for the foreseeable future. We are working hard behind the scenes to ensure that every parent carer across West Sussex has the opportunity to seek the information, training and support that they need. We are also available to attend meetings with our partners across education, health and social care - remotely of course. The show must go on!
We have had to make some changes to the way we deliver our work, and we are using technology to deliver some of our most popular events and activities.
Our promise to you follows:
- We will research and publish up to date information on Coronavirus, including information that is relevant to parent carers
- We will continue to provide up to date information on SEND - digitally where possible
- We will signpost parent carers to other organisations who may offer more specialist support
- We will continue to provide information and inspiration through a broad range of daily Facebook posts
- We will run Virtual Pop Ups hosted by our team of Parent Carer Reps - come as you are and join in the chat
- We will support you via telephone, email or Facebook Messenger
- We will encourage connection and dialogue between parent carers via our Facebook page
- We will be there when you need us - including during the Easter holidays
- We will develop our website so that members can access our top tips online. Watch this space!
- We will remain in contact with our partners across Education, Health and Social Care, attending virtual meetings where possible, to represent the voice of parent carers across West Sussex
Please feel free to spread the word amongst your friends and families. If you have any questions, or would like any help as you navigate these difficult times, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Twitter - @ws_pcf
My child’s PA is symptom free, would they still be able to come and help/take my child out now schools are closed?
Yes, though Social Distancing measures are in place. The current Government advice states that: “Children under 5, and up to 2 carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care, are not counted towards the gatherings limits for exercising outside.
If you (or a person in your care) have a health condition that routinely requires you to leave home to maintain your health - including if that involves travel beyond your local area or exercising several times a day - then you can do so.
When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household - meaning the people you live with - or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (like wearing a face covering).”
You may need to consider whether your PA should wear PPE, in particular if personal care is required – and whether you as their employer are required to provide it for them. Independent Lives can offer advice and support if you use them for your payroll service for direct payments, or the agency who employ your PA for you should provide it.
My child/young person struggles when out and about, and/or won’t wear a face covering. What can I do?
Sussex Police have the Pegasus Card scheme, for people who find it hard to communicate with the Police – they keep your pre-registered information safely and can access it quickly if you call or see us. You don't need to repeat all your details. Registration is free and for anyone who has a disability or illness that may make it hard to communicate with the police in an emergency or difficult situation.
The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.
Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.
You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a legitimate reason not to. This includes:
- young children under the age of 11
- not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others
- to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
- to eat or drink, but only if you need to
- to take medication
- if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
- If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
- If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication
There are many different cards that you can order or print off, such as those which can be attached to a sunflower lanyard, to explain the difficulties and these should be accepted.
Reaching Families have joined with other local organisations to provide a letter you can download and print if you prefer to have something with you while you are out and about. It contains the current national lockdown guidance on exercise and the valid reasons why you may be outside.
What advice should I be giving to my child’s PA about self-isolating, whether they should still be working, etc.?
As employers, we have responsibilities and we want to be sure we are doing things properly Independent Lives have produced some really useful, detailed guidance about what to do if your PA is self isolating either because they are displaying symptoms or because you feel it’s safer for them to do so for everyone’s wellbeing. See www.independentlives.org.
We know that some families are being creative with their care and may be utilising video calls and other services, such as having carers shop for essential supplies instead, but this may not be an option for many families.
This Think Local Act Personal website gives advice for families using Direct Payments about access to PPE and links to the Government Q & A for direct payments.
If you have concerns about whether to have your PA’s back, because of the Coronavirus risk, discuss with your social worker, agency or payroll provider, or your employer insurance, if they have a helpline.
Is there any extra funding available if my child’s PA can do extra hours?
There has been no statutory guidance on this as yet, so we would advise you contact your Social Worker or Choice Social Worker to discuss your individual circumstances.
My child is due to have an Social Communication / Autism assessment or further assessment by a paediatrician in the Child Development Centre, will this go ahead?
We understand that NHS England have advised all Child Development Centres to cancel any appointments for assessment that are non-urgent at the present time. We expect that you will receive confirmation of this directly if you are awaiting an appointment.
We understand that CDC’s will continue to offer appointments – almost all by phone- for children with complex neuro-disability and epilepsy. Children will be seen if the clinical need is urgent.
My child has currently got therapy support or other appointments coming up. Will these still be going ahead?
We recommend you contact the provider in question if you have not heard the week before your appointment and confirm before you set off to travel.
What is happening with Disability benefits – DLA & PIP – during this time?
Reaching Families have produced a fact sheet available on our website, detailing changes to DLA & PIP at this time.
Robert Hayes, the West Sussex Welfare Benefits Advisor, is in place to provide advice and support on benefit queries, contact him via email at email@example.com or call on 033022 22569.
My child would normally receive free school meals and I am worried about the extra costs of feeding my family when the schools are closed
Under normal circumstances, schools are not expected to provide free school meals to disadvantaged children who are not attending due to illness or if the school is closed. However, schools were expected to provide meals or vouchers for those children entitled to free school meals during lockdown and the school holidays, through a scheme for schools to access shopping vouchers and we recommend you contact your child’s school to find out what plans they have in place.
Children and Family Centres
All groups and events for children, young people and families have been stopped. Nine centres remain open across West Sussex to act as support centres, offering crisis payments and for distributing food parcels. The list of these centres is as follows:
- Adur and Worthing – Durrington and Kingston Buci Family Centre
- Arun – Treehouse Children and Family Centre
- Chichester – Chichester Children and Family Centre
- Crawley – Bewbush Children and Family Centre
- Horsham – Hurst Road Youth Centre
- Mid Sussex - Park Youth Centre
Contact details and addresses can be found on their website. Please contact them if you need support.
Trussell Trust Food banks
If you cannot afford food during this Coronavirus situation, please contact the Trussell Trust:
I am self-employed, what help am I entitled to?
Please see our Benefit Changes fact sheet, it gives information on the Self-employed Income Support Scheme and ESA (Employment & Support Allowance).
If you’re self-employed and can’t work because you’re ill with coronavirus, you won’t be able to get statutory sick pay (SSP). If you pay national insurance you might be eligible to claim contribution-based or ‘new style’ ESA (Employment & Support Allowance).
The Government has announced a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, with those eligible receiving a cash grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years. This will provide a grant of up to £2,500 per month for at least 3 months. HMRC will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply.
Grants will be paid in a single lump sum instalment covering all 3 months, and will start to be paid at the beginning of June. Therefore, if you are in financial difficulties now, you should apply for universal credit.
I am an employee, what help am I entitled to?
Please see our Benefit Changes fact sheet, it gives information on SSP (Statutory Sick Pay), Parental Leave, Furlough and the Job Retention Scheme.
Will my tax credits be affected if I am furloughed or working less hours during Coronavirus pandemic?
The government has confirmed that people who can’t work their normal hours because of coronavirus (COVID-19) will still receive their usual tax credits payments.
Those working reduced hours due to coronavirus or those being furloughed by their employer will not have their tax credits payments affected if they are still employed or self-employed. This will be the case until the Job Retention and Self-employment Income Support schemes close – even if you are not accessing one of those schemes. You do not need to contact HMRC about this change.
You should still report any other changes in income, childcare and hours in the normal way. You must tell HMRC if you or your partner lose their job, are made redundant or cease trading. Check GOV.UK to see if any additional or alternative support is available based on your personal and financial circumstances.
How will I pay my rent or my mortgage if I have to stop working?
Emergency legislation was passed during lockdown which meant that landlords could not start proceedings to evict tenants, this has so far been extended (since March) to a six-month period.
The government also intends to give tenants greater protection from eviction over the winter by requiring landlords to provide tenants with 6 months’ notice in all bar those cases raising other serious issues such as those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse perpetrators, until at least the end of March 2021. The government will keep these measures under review with decisions guided by the latest public health advice.
Mortgage lenders have agreed they will support customers that are experiencing issues with their finances as a result of Covid-19, including through payment holidays of up to 3 months.
How can I get food and essential items from the shops?
If you are self-isolating because you or anyone in your household has symptoms of Covid-19/Coronavirus, then you should not leave the house to do any shopping. You should enlist the help of friends, family or neighbours to drop essential urgent supplies to your doorstep with no contact at all (see What should I do if I need to self-isolate?).
Some local stores have been offering deliveries to their local communities and may have supplies of essentials. Social media and the various groups set up have collated many lists on which stores are offering deliveries, check with your local Community Coronavirus Support Group.
It is highly recommended to use cashless payment options, and even contactless if possible.