Special recognition payments will be made to social care personal assistants across Northern Ireland who worked during the pandemic.

An online application portal has launched to enable eligible personal assistants to receive a pro rata payment of up to a maximum of £500, depending on the number of hours they work in an average week.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I first developed the scheme to help acknowledge and thank our health and social care workforce for their immeasurable and vital contribution throughout the pandemic.

“I am pleased to launch this phase of the scheme today which will enable personal assistants to receive the payment. Personal assistants are a vital part of our health and social care workforce and they have our utmost gratitude.

“We have developed the online platform so that the process can be as simple, straightforward and as speedily delivered as possible for applicants.”

The personal assistant workforce are employed directly by disabled people, for whom they provide vital support to enable them to live independently.

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To be eligible, applicants must have been employed as a personal assistant for a continuous four-week period between 17 March 2020 and 31 January 2021.

Swann added: “I want to once again put on record my sincere appreciation for the personal assistant workforce and I thank them for their significant contribution during the pandemic.”

A further phase of the special recognition payments scheme will be available soon for groups not covered in earlier rounds, including:

  • Individuals employed in the independent social care sector who have moved employers, or left the sector, between 17 March 2020 and 31st January 2021;
  • And employees of a number of outlier organisations that were inadvertently not included from the initial Phase I criteria, specifically HSC commissioned services not regulated by the RQIA.
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