Adult and Community Services providers coronavirus advice

Advice and guidance for ACS providers in Suffolk relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

To support providers during the developing COVID-19 situation, we have compiled the following questions and answers. Email if you've a question that isn't captured below.

If you are unsure who your allocated contract manager is, please contact to find out.

Last updated: 31 July 2020 (reviewed daily).

What should we do if someone has cancelled a service with us, or we are unable to undertake our usual service with an individual?

You must undertake the welfare checklist process and let ACS know, regardless of the outcome, that you have done this via the welfare risk alert form.

You should continue to undertake the welfare check process to identify when the service may need to restart, and you should use the same risk alert form if there are any changes.

Where can I find the welfare checklist and script?

You can download the welfare checklist and script (PDF, 157KB). 

I have immediate concerns about an individual's safety, what should we do?

Your usual safeguarding approach should apply. We would expect you to contact 999 if there is an imminent risk to life, and Customer First otherwise.

How should we report any restrictions in place for my home?

You should discuss this with your allocated contract manager who will be in regular contact.

What should we do about customers returning from hospital?

Please refer to national guidance prepared around hospital discharges during the COVID-19 situation: COVID-19 Hospital Discharge Service Requirements (PDF, 881KB).

Please also refer to the update from the Council’s Public Health Director around supporting service users as they are discharged from acute hospital settings: Hospital Discharge and Covid-19 Guidance Letter (PDF, 118KB)

Download guidance about admission and care of residents during COVID-19 incident in a care home (PDF, 300KB) which covers admission of residents, caring for residents depending on COVID-19 status and reporting COVID-19 cases.

Providers operating within Ipswich and East/West Suffolk CCG areas can contact the local incident team to discuss. You can reach them at

Locally, we have some really good examples from providers who have implemented processes to ensure they can continue to receive admissions and take on new placements by putting in place:

  • an admissions disclaimer carried out for all hospital admissions over the telephone
  • providers completing a declaration to state customers are not showing signs or symptoms, which is added to discharge paperwork. This supports discharges to ongoing services
  • ensuring appropriate use of PPE
  • providers identifying beds in their home where residents can be supported for a 7 day period, away from others

Suffolk protocol for visiting arrangements in care homes

The Government published guidance allowing loved ones to visit their relatives who live in care homes (GOV.UK).

Download Suffolk’s protocol for visiting arrangements in care homes (PDF, 188KB).

Do I need to close?

As per government guidelines, you should not continue to offer services that include gatherings, however you are expected to continue to support the service users using the welfare checklist process.

If you are intending to close any usual activities, please inform your allocated contract manager.

How should we continue to support someone who is self-isolating or at a heightened risk of infection?

You can download and refer to the COVID-19 ACS provider guidelines (PDF, 144KB).

You can also refer to the COVID-19 Guidance What should I do If I am providing care to residents within their own home? (PDF, 132KB)

We have extra capacity beyond what is needed to keep our service users safe and well, what should we do with this?

Please notify your allocated contract manager to discuss opportunities to redeploy this.

We're not able to purchase sufficient PPE from our usual suppliers, what should we do?

If you have contacted all of your local suppliers and are still struggling to source PPE, please contact the Local Resilience Forum to request PPE. Please note that this is not meant to replace your normal route of supply, this should be used if you are in need or emergency PPE supplies.

For general queries about this local PPE scheme, please contact our dedicated staff at You can also contact the National Disruption Line on 0800 915 9964.

Urgent CAS Alert regarding Tiger Eye Protectors document attached which explains the removal from the Supply Chain in respect of Covid-19 use.


Learn how to:

Further PPE guidance which you may find useful:

New Anglia Growth Hub have created a portal to access companies looking to supply PPE with those care organisations in need. The page will include: weblink for the database, a form to request a user account for access, instructions on how to use the system and find the PPE offers you need and information on data protection. Any further queries regarding the Anglia Growth Hub, please contact

Download Suffolk local COVID-19 testing pathway (PDF, 256KB).

Employer Staff Key Worker Portal

Providers can now register for the Employer Staff Key Worker Portal to enable key workers with symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested.

For employers wishing to support their employees by managing their test registration (If you are a registered provider or running a large business, we would encourage you to set up an account per site/registered office), the first step is to email for access to the portal. Please include the following:

  • Your organisation Name and Sector
  • The name and email address of up to 2 people who will use the portal.

Once registered on the portal the Key Worker Employer User Guide (PDF, 1MB) will take you through the steps required to manage your employee referrals.

Employee Self-Referral

An essential worker self-referral process has gone live which has been set up by the Government nationally. That means testing is now available for the following: (this will be more suitable for small providers)

  • Essential workers with symptoms
  • People who live with essential workers and have symptoms

Essential workers who are self-isolating can now book their test online directly by visiting and clicking on one of the options under ‘Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19).’

You will need to be able to get there by car, either driving yourself or being driven by someone in your household. If you are unable to get to a Testing centre you may be able to book a home test through the online portal but the number of home book tests are limited.

The attached documents provider some further information:

For further information please call the Department of Health and Social Care helpline on 0300 3030 2713.

Will customers be routinely tested for Covid-19 before they are identified as ready for discharge? (Ipswich Hospital)

Upon admittance an individual will be swabbed. 

If a person is found to be:

  • COVID+ (COVID-positive) the individual will not be re-swabbed as a matter of routine. (someone found to have COVID could still show as having COVID or may continue to display COVID symptoms several days or weeks after the initial test due). For medical reasons, a re-swab could be taken, but it will not be done to simply facilitate a hospital discharge. The expectation is for a Care Home to apply the 14days isolation protocols as per current guidance and Home Care providers to follow current guidance.
  • COVID- (COVID-negative) they will routinely be re-swabbed after 5 days from admission. All patients being discharged from hospitals to a Care Home will be swabbed 48 hours in advance of their discharge, so that a test result will be available at point of discharge.

Local testing arrangements 

If you are aware of any symptomatic residents, or a specific outbreak, please ensure that you report this to Public Health England on 0300 303 8537. If you receive any issues with the service, please contact

If you would like your residents tested then please contact the ACS Contracts Helpdesk on and supply scheme name, address, postcode, contact number, number of symptomatic residents, their full name, DOB and NHS number.

We now offer a follow-on offer if any care setting has a positive result to this initial testing. We will arrange for the entire care setting to be tested – this includes all staff and residents regardless of whether they are showing any symptoms (symptomatic) or not showing any symptoms (asymptomatic).

If the results are positive then support will be available to you and managed at a local level. It can include more detailed advice on infection control, use of PPE, assistance with finding additional staffing, support for managers etc.

Download testing pathway flowchart (PDF, 144KB)) which shows the local process.

Please note that the local testing arrangements in Waveney are slightly different to the arrangements in other parts of Suffolk.

For further details please see process chart Waveney Care Home Swabbing Process. The local Infection Prevention & Control Team are unable to offer staff testing at this time, local stuff testing is available to book at drive through facilities at the Norfolk & Norwich University and James Paget University Hospitals. 

If you require further information please contact your contract manager or email

National Testing process


Following new advice from SAGE and research evidence new guidance has been published to say that care home staff will be re-tested for coronavirus on a weekly basis and residents will receive a test every 28 days from Monday 6th July.

Please see a letter from Ros Roughton, Director General for Adult Social Care, sent to all DASSs and DPHs regarding this re-testing strategy and Covid-19 outbreak management.

Please note that care homes will have to re-register on the care home testing portal for the repeat testing. The care homes for over 65’s and those with dementia will initially be prioritised. To be able to re-register online via a digital portal.

new online portal is now live and available to you which makes it easy for care homes to arrange deliveries of coronavirus test kits. If you use this new online portal you will still be required to report any outbreaks to Public Health England.

Download the factsheet about care home testing (PDF, 168KB)

Please note this is only for Care homes that are CQC registered and not the wider care settings being offered in Suffolk, DHSC are looking at how this can be rolled out more widely in the future.

This covers any care home, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.

They will arrange for testing kits to be delivered to the care home so staff can manage the swabbing of all residents and staff, and will focus on whole homes testing. The national availability of whole home testing is limited currently (there is capacity to test 300 care homes nationally per day) and is important that we therefore maintain our local testing capacity and response so please continue to access this.

Due to limited capacity in the national testing, each Local Authority is also being asked to identify the care homes they wish to prioritise. In Suffolk we have decided to use the following criteria;

  • Homes where currently there is no infection (since our local process covers homes where infection has been reported to us)
  • Local proximity to another care setting that has reported symptomatic residents
  • Homes caring for residents with dementia where there is no current infection outbreak
  • Larger homes with larger staff groups as there is a greater risk of infection and the potential impact on a large number of vulnerable residents
  • Smaller homes with a less robust support infrastructure which would make them more vulnerable in the event of sudden reductions in staffing levels.

There is work ongoing nationally to determine when and if care homes should be retested and we will update you on this when available.

From 7th June 2020 all remaining adult care homes will be able to access whole care home testing for all residents and asymptomatic staff through the digital portal. These are expected to be adult care homes catering for adults with learning disabilities or mental health issues, physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries and other categories for younger adults under 65 years old.

For more information read the following documents:

Test results will go back to homes so it would will be important for you to notify of your results so as we can arrange any follow up support you may require.

Warning about courier services

Finally, we have been informed by a provider that people claiming to be testing couriers turned up at the home at 1am in the morning. Please note that no courier service should arrive any later than 9pm and always ask to see their ID.

Infection Prevention and Control

As part of the national response to COVID-19, the NHS has been asked to provide Infection Prevention & Control support to the Care sector. We understand that you are already working hard to protect your residents and staff in this pandemic, and would like to offer you support and training from the Suffolk team.

Short survey: Suffolk COVID-19 Care Home Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Offer

Please can you complete this survey indicating if you would like to accept this offer of local support as soon as possible. I understand you may also be contacted by your local health care team, please do not hesitate to contact us at if you have any questions.

Additional support for Waveney homes can be requested via the Norfolk and Waveney care provider incident room requests for swabbing and other additional support is provided by the infection control via

CCG Care Home Support Team

My Resident App

My Resident App has been developed by Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCG’s, designed to support frontline care staff working in care settings. The guides and ‘Is my resident Well’ symptom checker works for people living in the community too.

What will happen to customers receiving a direct payment?

The council will continue to pay direct payments to customers. Providers should continue to support these customers. Should there be any breakdown to services, providers should respond as the above outline welfare check process. The council will revert to commissioned services only where other options are not available.

In the current exceptional circumstances, ACS understand that some providers will need to charge people who fund their services through a direct payment for some services that they do not receive. ACS will be sensitive to this and will assist the person to find alternative ways of meeting their care and support needs and providing additional funds for this as necessary.

What does this mean for me as a service user?

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Suffolk County Council will be more flexible around how you use your direct payments. If you're not able to access your normal care and support, we want to help you find alternative support quickly and easily. You may still be asked to pay for services that you are not receiving. We recognise that this may be important to make sure that those care and support providers are able to carry on working in the future.

If you are paying for a service you are not receiving and you need additional funds to allow you to make alternative arrangements please call Customer First on 0808 800 4005 who can arrange for you to discuss this with your social work team.

If you employ a personal assistant (PA) or carer directly, they will need proof that they are travelling to support you as a vulnerable person during current government restrictions. You can complete our direct payments personal assistant COVID-19 letter template (Word, 19KB) and give it to your PA to carry with them.

What will happen to payments during this COVID-19 response?

All care purchasing suppliers are guaranteed usual revenue from April – July 2020, baselined against September to November 2019 payments. A payment based on the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) will be made automatically in the first week of the month (except for April which will be paid asap). These payments will be made to ensure that the total paid per provider is no less than the average paid per month between 1st November 2019 and 31st January 2020 + 5.25% inflationary uplift. Block payments will continue as normal.

Agreed pricing for care homes is ongoing until NHS funding for discharge cases ceases. This guarantees a minimum price for care to be paid on discharge from hospital to a Care Home, to recognise that under current arrangements there are no self-funders or CHC funded discharges.

Financial support for care providers that the council contracts with

ACS provider funding guidance document sets out how the Council is financially supporting the care market though the Covid-19 outbreak. These have been discussed with the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers and believe that they are fully consistent with ADASS and LGA guidance.

Providers should remember that this support remains conditional on them continuing to work with the Council and making their best efforts to provide care to those in need, continuing to update the local or national trackers, and, where applicable, adhering to council timetables on submitting invoices.

In the longer term the Council is looking at plans to phase out the financial support and will try to do so in a way that strikes a balance between the needs of the cares sector and affordability for the local authority.

Non-residential services

Following a review of the Minimum Income Guarantee, we have decided from May 2020 to make it more consistent with the process for residential providers ie that it acts as a top up to payments made in the month rather than as an upfront payment. This reduces adjustments having to be made to payments and therefore makes it more transparent for providers.

Financial support for care providers including those the council does not contract with

Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund

As per Government Guidelines 75% of the funding will be allocated based on the number of CQC registered beds in Care Homes which will equate to £962.77 per bed and will be paid in June and July providing the grant conditions are met, including that its use is for the following:

  • Ensuring that staff who are isolating in line with government guidance receive their normal wages while doing so.
  • Ensuring, so far as possible, that members of staff work in only one care home
  • Limiting or cohorting staff to individual groups of residents or floors/wings
  • To support active recruitment of additional staff
  • Steps to limit the use of public transport by members of staff
  • Providing accommodation for staff who proactively choose to stay separately from their families in order to limit social interaction outside work.

This may be provision on site or in partnership with local hotels. This money must be used to support infection control by measures such as supporting the costs of isolation within care homes, restricting the movement of staff, including agency staff, between homes, and full pay for those staff who are self-isolating to encourage them to do this.

For you to be able to access this funding, you must be set up on the National Bed Tracker system. If you don’t have enough capacity to update this, we are able to do this for you. You will need to contact with the date you would like us to start doing this for you.

The Council is still considering the allocation of the remaining 25% but is likely to be utilised for some non-residential care settings.

Other provider support

This can be discussed on a case by case basis, but before applying the Council would expect providers to have sought other sources of funding, such as repayment holidays from their lenders and government support to businesses.

Do I need to submit invoices for this?

Your allocated contract manager will share information on your calculated minimum payment guarantee. If you have any questions outside of normal billing processes, you should discuss these with your allocated contract manager.

We may not be able to resolve questions arising from these immediately and you should retain the related information for future reconciliation with us.

Invoicing for non-residential providers should be submitted based on commissioned hours and variations will still be processed and for most providers paid via one scheduled payment per 4 week period. It is therefore important that invoices are submitted in time. Where payments made to providers falls below the minimum income guarantee amount for the month a top up will be made within a few days of the scheduled payment. Where the scheduled payment exceeds the minimum income guarantee amount then no top up payment will be made.

Providers should submit invoices for previously outstanding care via email to their usual business and finance team. This should be done via email to the following addresses:

Non-residential providers

Following a review of the Minimum Income Guarantee, we have decided from May 2020 to make it more consistent with the process for residential providers ie that it acts as a top up to payments made in the month rather than as an upfront payment. This reduces adjustments having to be made to payments and therefore makes it more transparent for providers.

Auto-payments are scheduled based on commissioned hours and variations submitted will still be processed following the pre-set dates and periods although it will be paid slightly earlier than usual. Where payments made to providers falls below the minimum income guarantee amount for the month a top up will be made within a few days of the scheduled payment. Where the scheduled payment exceeds the minimum income guarantee amount then no top up payment will be made.

Support to care providers with few or no SCC funded clients

This section clarifies ACS’s support to those providers who have few care packages funded by SCC, or those who have none as they only support self-funders.

The practical support that SCC and our partners in the local CCGS is providing is for all providers, whoever they provide care for. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Supply of PPE
  • Testing of staff and residents
  • Infection control advice
  • The general clinical support provided by primary care and community health services
  • Advice on support on staffing, recruitment, and any other matters

However our financial support package (the ‘four block model’) is based on current levels of funding to care providers, so those who do low levels work for the local authority currently will receive lower levels of support under this model. The exception to this is the discretionary element of the fourth block, the provider support fund. It will be possible for these providers who do low levels, or no, work for the County Council to bid for support from these funds.

Provider Support Fund

Automatic payments to applicable providers, based on 10% of the MIG for April to June 2020 and 5% for July 2020 to help towards excess costs that will be incurred by care providers, these include, but are not limited to:

  • Cost of increased SSP payments
  • Impact on cost rises on PPE
  • Increased cost of overtimes, extra hours, and agency staff
  • Other equipment and consumables costs

Exceptional financial provider support over and above the automatic payments can be discussed with your nominated Contracts Officer. Before applying the Council would expect providers to have sought other sources of funding, such as repayment holidays from their lenders and government support to businesses.

In making a decision on the bids the County Council will take into account factors such as:

  • Any steps the provider has taken to secure funds form elsewhere, such as though the Growth Hub or other sources
  • Any steps the provider has taken to reduce costs
  • The need for the capacity the provider has in order to meet the need for care of the people of Suffolk
  • The ability of other providers locally to meet that need.

Any provider seeking access to discretionary funding should in the first instance contact their designated Service Development & Contracts Manager, or if they currently do no work for the County Council and do not have one the contacts helpdesk on

Cash flow support

The Council has reduced the turnaround time for processing payments to all suppliers. This means faster payments and, consequently, scheduled payment dates maybe slightly earlier than planned. The schedule for residential and nursing payments has been moved forward, effectively becoming a payment in advance.

On a case by case basis the Council will consider applications for cash flow advances, which will be repayable but not interest bearing. The Provider Support Fund payments should minimise the need for this, and care providers should have exhausted other options before applying.

Recovery Phase

We are looking to slowly move from the responsive to the recovery phase. In effect this brings to an end the automatic support through the Provider Support Fund payments and Minimum Income Guarantee and moves to Transitional Support Payments agreed on a case by case basis.

In practical terms this will mean the following:

  • For Residential and Nursing, Supported Housing, and Extra Care the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) will be funded for July, meaning that the last top up will be paid in August where payments made in July fall below the value of the MIG. The Provider Support Fund (PSF) element will be paid as a 5% addition to July’s MIG payment, and a 2.5% top-up to payments made in August. Transitional Support Payments, including block contracting, will be considered on a case by case basis from August.
  • For Home Care and Support the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) will be funded for July, paid in August, meaning that the last top up will be paid in August where payments made in July fall below the value of the MIG. The Provider Support Fund (PSF) element will be paid as a 5% addition to July’s MIG payment, and a 2.5% top-up to payments made in August. with exclusions for those providers/services not operational. Where providers who invoice are currently receiving scheduled, fixed, payments, these will continue for providers until these can be moved to the Council’s provider portal automated payment process
  • For Day and Community Services, the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) will be funded for July and August, meaning that the last top up will be paid in September where payments made in August fall below the value of the MIG. The Provider Support Fund (PSF) element will be paid as a 5% and 2.5% addition to July and August’s MIG payments respectively with exclusions for those providers/services not operational. Thereafter, Transitional Support Payments may be offered to providers that are actively working towards opening, or have partially opened, to ensure continuity of revenue whilst these services manage changes around more socially distant and digital offers. Details on the specifics of this will be shared in our updates next week. Where providers who invoice are currently receiving scheduled, fixed, payments, these will continue for providers until these can be moved to the Council’s provider portal automated payment process.
  • For all providers Provider Support Fund exceptional claims will be considered until the end of August

There are discussions in central Government about further financial support to the care sector. Should the Council receive additional funding we will clearly ensure that this is used to continue to support the care market. Both SCC and SAICP continue to lobby for more funding, as do national organisations such as ADASS and the LGA, however as there has so far been no announcement we do need to plan for the existing funding to be the last we receive.

Mental wellbeing

  • Mental Wellbeing of frontline staff – A new resource Our Frontline has been launched to support those under most pressure. Our Frontline offers round-the-clock one-to-one support, by call or text, from trained volunteers, plus resources, tips and ideas to look after your mental health.
  • LGA Workforce wellbeing information. Find advice and guidance for supporting and managing the wellbeing of frontline staff, more information and support for managers and staff working in social care will be uploaded. 
  • Health and wellbeing support for staff (PDF, 378KB), including online training, telephone triage and one to one counselling for NHS and Care Staff.
  • new dedicated app for social care workers has launched to support staff through the coronavirus pandemic, the app allows care workers to get access to guidance, learning resources, discounts and other support all in one place.
  • The FirstResponse service, launched by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and provides immediate advice, support and signposting for people with mental health difficulties. If you are experiencing something that makes you feel unsafe, distressed or worried about your mental health you can now call the helpline on 0808 196 3494.
  • NHS Staff Support Line (PDF, 62KB) is available to all health and social care workers in Norfolk and Suffolk
  • Wellbeing Suffolk COVID support webinars - different types of wellbeing support are available to people living in Norfolk and Waveney and Suffolk available at

Should you require any assistance in recruitment during this time, please download a list of recruitment agencies (Excel, 20KB) that are available to help.

Please note that this list is in alphabetical order and none of these agencies come with a Suffolk County Council recommendation.

Information published each week for ACS providers.






Supporting people with a learning difficulty or autism

Supporting people with dementia

MCA/DOLs resources

End of Life Care

St Nicholas Hospice

St Nicholas Hospice Care has increased capacity of their 24/7 advice line from Thursday 9 April 2020.

Their telephone number 01284 766133 provides advice to health professionals (Including Care Homes) and families on symptom management and end of life care.

The specialist teams will continue to support as usual during the day but will increasingly offer telephone advice. Their aim is to ensure people are equipped and prepared, and that if things change unexpectedly, additional expert advice is available. Please find attached ‘Resources for Care Homes’

St Elizabeth Hospice provides a lot of useful information for care providers.

Bereavement Support. This service is available to provide support and guidance to Care Homes and has been opened to anyone who has died of Covid19 or any other long-term illness. It’s also available for relatives and care home staff across East and Ipswich, Great Yarmouth and Waveney areas.

Safeguarding information and support

Contact the MASH consultation line or webchat to discuss safeguarding related matters before making a referral.

MASH Consultation Line: 0345 606 1499.

Useful information including:

Other useful information

What is happening about CQC inspections?

CQC have published information about routine inspections suspended in response to coronavirus outbreak.

Public Health England

0300 303 8537 or email

MASH Consultation Line

0345 606 1499

PPE National Disruption Line

0800 915 9964

Customer First

0808 800 4005

FirstResponse Service

0808 196 3494

St Nicholas Hospice

01284 766133

St Elizabeth Hospice

01473 727776

Suffolk Association of Independent care providers

07506 725642


Care Development East Whatsapp group

01449 720400 or email

CQC Support

03000 616161 or email

ACS Helpdesk

Personal Protective Equipment


Infection Prevention and Control

Ipswich & East and West—

Great Yarmouth & Waveney—


Ipswich & East and West—

Great Yarmouth & Waveney— &





ACS provider Funding

Activities within Care Settings

NAPA free resources  Care Home Toolkit  Keep Suffolk Moving

Workforce Support Care Staff

Please see recruitment section in FAQs

Welfare Risk Alert Form

Welfare Risk Alert Form

Welfare Checklist and Script

Covid-19 HomeFirst Plus Core Script & FAQ’s

Suffolk Health Partners

CCG Care Homes Team