If you are struggling to get PPE, then please contact the Social Care PPE Support Centre on 0300 303 3020 and they can provide you with information about where to access PPE locally. This will usually be through a Community Hub that has been set up in your area.
If you are seeking to claim wages for furloughed employees then please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme which has all the details on how to do this. Unfortunately, SPAEN cannot do this on behalf of our members, so be sure to make your claim as soon as possible.
If you have any questions then please get in touch with us. We hope you are keeping safe.
SPAEN’s CEO, Colin Millar, has welcomed the Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport’s written assurance that the ongoing issue of Personal Assistants and their employers are struggling to access Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Jeane Freeman MSP told the Chamber, “I need to apologise for the fact that we have not resolved this up until now. This is a really important group of people, the individuals that they are caring for are very important individuals and there is no reason, at this point, why they cannot access PPE. So my apology goes alongside my assurance that before I leave to go home tonight, we will have resolved this.”
She went on to state, “These Personal Assistants have my assurance that we will have resolved this by the end of today.”
The Cabinet Secretary subsequently followed up this Parliamentary statement with a letter to Colin repeating the apology for the delay and re-affirming her commitment to have this matter resolved, outlining the steps the Scottish Government are taking to ensure this is done swiftly. You can view the full letter here.
Welcoming the commitment and renewed assurance, Colin said, “We are very grateful to the Cabinet Secretary and all MSP’s who’ve supported SPAEN in their calls to have this matter given the attention it deserves from the Scottish Government. The delays have caused considerable distress and anger amongst many PA employers and their workers, who have continued to provide support and services despite the personal risk to them and their employers.”
“A quick resolution will ensure that people get the equipment they need to remain protected and SPAEN stands ready to work with the Scottish Government, CoSLA and any other partners to ensure this is achieved. I would like to thank the Cabinet Secretary for her consideration and leadership in bringing this delay to an end.”
As soon as full details are available on the practical steps PA’s and employers can take to access PPE, we will update our News section, social media channels and will write direct to all our members.
SPAEN’s CEO, Colin Millar, today issued an open letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport, the Convenor of the Health & Sport Committee, the Convenor of the Cross Party Group on Disability and all MSP’s with the Health brief in the Scottish Parliament calling for a “fundamental review into how Direct Payment recipients in Scotland are represented and supported at national and regional level at the earliest opportunity.”
His call comes on the back of repeated requests for access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Personal Assistant Employers and their PA’s, stating, “the cracks in Scotland’s social care system have been exposed and the lack of any kind of planning or cognisance of how Direct Payment recipients would be supported in such instances has clearly not been considered, leaving them exposed and vulnerable.”
Scottish Government estimates there are currently around 2,200 active PA employers in Scotland today, giving a potential PA workforce of between 4,400 and 6,600 individuals.
SPAEN has been calling on the Scottish Government to ensure these people are given equal priority and access to essential PPE, ensuring they can fully follow the Scottish Government’s own guidelines on safe working in social care settings. The Scottish Government issued an e-mail address and telephone number for people wishing to report issues accessing PPE but SPAEN members are advising their calls are not being taken as they are not “Care Inspectorate” registered and e-mails continue to go “unanswered”.
Some PA employers are being told by their local authority that they will need to source their own PPE.
Colin draws parallels to the urgent care and attention given to other social care workers represented by unions or membership organisations and questions why PA employers are not being afforded the same support and consideration especially given that their right to choose a Direct Payment as a means of meeting their assessed social care needs is protected in law and should have equivalent affect as any of the other Self-directed Support Options.
“We’ve already had to write to the Cabinet Secretary requesting that Personal Assistants be explicitly included in the list of “social care key workers” as initial guidance omitted this, preventing many PA’s from accessing essential childcare or being questioned whether their journey to work was “essential. It seems as though PA employers in particular are being forgotten at each and every turn.”
Living Wage partnership launched to end shortage of personal carers
A Scottish Government Minister has endorsed an initiative to address a serious shortage of carers for people who have been assessed as requiring social care support.
Jamie Hepburn, the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, welcomed the proposal, adding “The Scottish Government is clear that people who work in social care support provide an invaluable service and it’s absolutely right that they should be paid the real living wage.”
The Minister said the government’s commitment around the real living wage for adult social care staff was recognised by the Fair Wage Convention as an important step in addressing some of the challenges in the sector. He added: “The promotion of living wage accreditation for people employing their own carers is a great way of recognising that all social care workers should be paid the real living wage.”
The partnership between the Scottish Personal Assistant (PA) Employers Network (SPAEN) and the Workers Educational Association (WEA) will work to raise awareness amongst the PA employer network of the benefits of becoming Living Wage accredited and how this can help them to recruit and retain talented staff.
The partnership aims to provide practical support, guidance and assistance to PA employers to apply for and achieve Living Wage accreditation. Once accredited employers will be entitled to display the Living Wage Employer trademark on any associated job adverts. This accreditation is fast becoming a clear symbol of responsible employment practice among job applicants and will help PA employers secure status as employers of choice in the care sector.
Direct Payments, a means through which individuals can employ their own carers directly, was initially launched in 1998 but the number of people using this as a way of meeting their requirements continues to be very low.
A major part of the slow growth has been a dearth of available carers or PAs to meet the demand. The public perception of the role of personal carer has often been negative, with people wrongly assuming it is low paid, insecure and largely unrewarding work.
The payment of the real Living Wage (rLW) and being an rLW Accredited Employer aims to be a symbol of responsible business practice among employers, demonstrating that they are willing to go further than minimum wage levels and enabling their employees to better meet the costs of living. For employees in receipt of the rLW it is a sign that they are valued by their employers, that the work they do is important and it can be the basis of a worthwhile career.
SPAEN provides support to people who employ their own Personal Assistant whilst the WEA, via the Personal Assistants Network, supports PAs.
Offering Direct Payments, enabling people to become PA employers and the PA workforce are a vital part of national and local government’s aspirations to achieve person centred care in the community. Under the Self-Directed Support Strategy and Act, people in Scotland with assessed social care needs are offered the opportunity to receive a Direct Payment, a cash sum paid to the individual or their representative to enable them to purchase the care and support they require and desire to meet their assessed needs. This care is typically provided by PAs who support their respective employers’ in their own home or in the local community enabling eligible individuals to have more control over how, where, when and by who their assessed needs are met.
By paying the real Living Wage, it is hoped PA employers will be able to attract high quality personal assistants who can be secure in the knowledge they are receiving the market rate for their work. For the Personal Assistants themselves and those who aspire to be Personal Assistants, payment of the real Living Wage creates more and different career opportunities within the care sector and it is hoped this will also drive up awareness and recognition of the vital role PA’s play in Scotland’s social care mix.
Colin Millar, Chief Executive Officer at SPAEN, said “We’re delighted that our members and PA employers across Scotland will now be able to get the recognition they deserve as accredited living wage employers. This will help them to find, recruit and retain the very best, committed and skilled individuals and will demonstrate that private employment by Direct Payment users is a critical role in enabling people to live healthy, happy and meaningful lives within Scotland’s communities.
“Our own membership currently accounts for around £15m of social care spending each year, most of this going toward wages for PA’s delivering person-centred, flexible and vital support that enables people to continue living in their own homes or communities. For these committed employers to gain the same recognition as many of the bigger companies who are competing for the skills and talents of people in the community, this recognition will make a massive difference and will allow them to show that the role of a PA is extremely rewarding, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction’’.
Ray McCowan, Director of WEA Scotland, added “The WEA is delighted to be working in partnership with SPAEN and supported by the Poverty Alliance to promote the payment of the real Living Wage to all PAs across Scotland. PAs play an invaluable role in providing essential high-quality care to their service users. This work deserves to be recognised and rewarded appropriately through the payment of the real Living Wage and the WEA is proud to be working with SPAEN and the Poverty Alliance to achieve that.”
Jack Evans, Manager at Living Wage Scotland, which is hosted at the Poverty Alliance, said: “Living Wage Scotland’s mission is to tackle in-work poverty. The project is based on the twin belief that those working should not be earning less than they need to live on and that when employers choose to go beyond the minimum, they can see tangible business benefits. I welcome the announcement that SPAEN and WEA will be working in partnership to promote Living Wage accreditation throughout their networks.”