National Care Standards: Care homes for people with learning disabilities

National Care Standards: Care homes for people with learning disabilities Edition

Annex C : What is personal assistance?

Personal assistance has been developed by disabled people as a more flexible way of obtaining help with day-to-day activities such as dressing, bathing, eating, getting around, cooking, cleaning - in other words, the kind of basic tasks which you may need help with to live an active life. Personal assistance can also help you to do a paid job or attend college courses.

What makes personal assistance different is that it is you who employs the worker providing support (the personal assistant or PA for short) rather than an agency, a voluntary organisation or the local authority. This means that it is you who decides:

  • what tasks the PA does - i.e. what's in the job description and what you need help with at any given moment.
  • when you need help - e.g. getting up and going to bed when it suits you;
  • who provides the assistance - you recruit, interview and appoint the PAs you want to work for you;
  • where you need assistance - e.g. you might want help going to an evening class, meeting a friend for lunch, or going away on holiday; and
  • how help is provided - as you are the employer, it is easier for you to get help provided in a way you feel most comfortable with.

Most people who employ PAs find that being the employer creates a better relationship that allows them to receive the help they need in a flexible way. Of course, along with the added choice and flexibility comes extra responsibility. For this reason, PA schemes do not suit everybody. However, if needed, help is often available with activities such as applying for funding, recruiting workers, managing staff on a day-to-day basis, or administering payroll and other paperwork.

If you are interested in employing personal assistants, try contacting your local disability advice organisation or social services department.

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