Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Information for care providers

COVID-19 - care provider emergency response line

If you are experiencing significant immediate challenges which are critical to your safe delivery of support within the next 24 hours, please contact us on the COVID-19 provider emergency response line - 0300 3030 715. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  This line should not be used for general queries, or issues which will not immediately affect your ability to continue to provide support.

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.

COVID-19 care provider emergency support line

If you are experiencing significant immediate challenges which are critical to your safe delivery of support within the next 24 hours, please contact us via the COVID-19 Provider Emergency Response Line - 0300 3030 715. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  This line should not be used for general queries, or issues which will not immediately affect your ability to continue to provide support.

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

What is the position if my Personal Assistant is self-isolating?
They need to follow government guidelines. They will get paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

What is the position if the employer is self-isolating (has symptoms) and following government guidelines.
The 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 the Personal Assistant refuses to work. Please seek legal advice and contact social worker.

What is the position if the employer is social distancing or shielding and has decided they do not want their Personal Assistant to work and their job role is not needed on a temporary basis?
These circumstances do meet the Government furlough criteria, however government guidance means that the employer cannot claim back the 80% that the government scheme is providing. The Cumbria County Council approach is that Personal Assistants should continue to be paid at 100% from the existing direct payment. An Employer may still need legal advice as employee will need formal notification of being furloughed. Where someone has been furloughed they are NOT allowed to do ANY work for the employer. 

What is the position if a Personal Assistant has received a shielding letter themselves?
In these circumstances the Personal Assistant would be furloughed and potentially the money could be claimed back. As this would require the direct payment to be in place for replacement care and support.

What is the position if a Personal Assistant does not want to go into work because they are worried about social distancing?
Legal advice is needed as this would potentially be without pay.

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?
No, parents cannot be paid to care for their own child. However, if parents cannot access their usual support they should contact their social worker or EHCP co-ordinator to discuss how else they could be supported.

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?
No the guidance is very clear this is not permissible. If there are difficulties in providing care, the direct payment user should contact their social worker.

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.

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 someone with a direct payment or a Personal Assistant is not able to access PPE from their usual source?
If there is a risk that an individual will run out of PPE please email the council at

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 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 some day 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.

Can I use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough my Personal Assistant?

The Government has produced new guidance on circumstances under which personal assistants can be furloughed . Personal Assistants can be furloughed in exceptional circumstances.

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

Should children and young people go to schools or education provision?

Subject to existing Public Health advice, vulnerable children and those of key workers are able to attend school where they are well and a school is open.  For some children and young people, the safest place for them to be is in school.  For others, remaining at home - whether in a foster family or children's home - will be in their best interests.  These decisions will be based on individual circumstances, which may change as the situation develops.  Close liaison with Children's Social Workers throughout will be central to these decisions.  Foster carers will be supported in their decisions taken using Delegated Authority.  If your school is closed then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend. Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision.

Our foster carers are not equipped to provide an education offer if children remain at home, how will you support us?

The Department for Education is clear that there is no expectation of a continuation of a normal curriculum offer in schools that are open.  Foster carers will be supported to make decisions using Delegated Authority.  All vulnerable children will have access to a school place, but where it is agreed with the Children's Social Worker that they remain at home, care not education is expected.  First and foremost, we want children to be involved in decisions and be in safe, supportive family environments.  Drawing on existing support networks, as would be the case in any challenging circumstances, will be of the utmost importance.

How will Social Workers and Independent Reviewing Officers carry out visits?

We are making every effort to both fulfil our statutory duties and balance risks to children, carers and our own staff in line with latest Public Health advice.  Making sure we see and speak to children is of paramount importance, particularly during this challenging period.  We will not introduce a blanket policy of cancellation of all visits to Looked After Children, but will consider, on a case-by-case basis, whether Skype, Facetime or telephone calls need to be utilised to substitute for visiting in person.  This will always be done based on specific circumstances, for example for foster carers considered to be within vulnerable groups themselves, or where the family are self-isolating.  Decisions to cancel visits or conduct via other arrangements will be subject to management decision making and based on risk assessments, which will change .  Please be assured that decisions not to visit in person and the reasons for this will be properly recorded in every instance.

How will time with family (contact) be managed?

Contact presents a particular challenge and risk at this time, especially in light of new, more stringent guidance on social distancing.  We take our responsibilities to maintaining children's links with those closest to them seriously. The significant changes required to ensure children remain in touch with their families will always be discussed with them, foster carers and children's homes.  Here use of Skype, Facetime, telephone calls and other messaging will be particularly important.  We will work flexibly, but decisively including considering closure of family/contact centres and full use of legal powers available to us to restrict contact where that is appropriate.  Our duty to promote contact remains and it is critical that, where changes to arrangements are necessary, that children and young people are fully involved in and understand those decisions.  We understand that, for some young people, they will be self-managing how they remain in touch with their family.  In these circumstances it may be most important for foster carers and support workers to focus on supporting them to apply and understand the importance of social distancing guidance. Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK.  As with other adjustments to normal arrangements, management oversight and appropriate recording will be assured.

How will meetings, such as Looked After Children Reviews, be conducted?

Continuing to hold some meetings such as these is an important part of maintaining as much normality as possible for our children, particularly in these difficult circumstances.  We will follow relevant Public Health advice and use telephone, Skype, Facetime and written reports to ensure reviews and discussions can take place appropriately.  Management oversight and appropriate recording will be ensured.  In addition, steps are being taken to provide more legal certainty in negotiations with the Department for Education.

Will Local Authorities be assisting with the provision of Personal Protective Equipment for Children's Homes?

We are acutely aware of the issues all community-based provision is facing regarding the provision of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).  Based on Public Health England advice, in most circumstances normal hygiene routines and, where needed, self-isolation in bedrooms are to be observed.  COVID-19 Guidance on isolation for residential educational settings "If neither the care worker nor the individual receiving care and support is symptomatic, then no personal protective equipment is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices."  PPE is only specifically recommended for care "activities that bring them into close personal contact, such as washing and bathing, personal hygiene and contact with bodily fluids."  COVID-19: guidance for residential care, supported living and home care.  Further provision and supply of PPE for community-settings and services is a national priority for the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS).  Once further progress is made in discussions with Government, we will update providers fully.

Will Local Authorities be providing additional funding to meet any increased costs?

The Government has identified a £5billion COVID-19 fund for emergency funding.  Understandably, much of this is intended to support the NHS.  Around £190m is currently identified to support Local Authorities to meet additional costs arising in Children's Social Care.  As such, there is scope to significantly extend Government support, yet we will work with providers on a case-by-case basis to meet reasonable, evidence-based additional costs.  To support this Placements North West is planning to work with providers to capture additional costs and the rationale for these, so we can plan effectively.  For Children's Homes providers who are small or medium-sized enterprises, support is available including to make Statutory Sick Pay payments Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees.

What will happen if our staffing levels mean we may need to close a Children's Home?  

We understand how challenging maintaining staffing levels are, particularly with stringent new guidance on social distancing and self-isolation.  Together we should always operate from the basis that, first and foremost, residential provision is a young person's home.  As such, it is unlikely that we would support moving young people to a different home due to staffing levels.  We know that some of you are already responding across homes within your group and even by pooling resources across providers to remain resilient.  Such approaches to securing 'business continuity' will be supported and Ofsted are welcoming of rapid notifications of changes to your Statement of Purpose where this may be required.  Any placement move should be the very last resort and based on communication with young person, Social Worker, Independent Reviewing Officer, (and Cafcass Children's Guardian if there are ongoing legal proceedings). Local Authorities want to work in partnership to resolve an acute staffing crisis to avoid the long-term implications of an unnecessary move for a child.

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).