Department of Health tackles shortfall of Personal Assistants

Published on Wednesday, 27 July 2011 10:39
Posted by Matthew Abbott

Plans to make it easier for people with disabilities to employ Personal Assistants to help them to live as full a life as possible were revealed today by Care Services Minister Paul Burstow (July 27th)

A Framework for Personal Assistants helps offer universal support for people with care needs as well as the PAs they employ. It maintains the flexibility of the role, which makes them so vital in helping people with disabilities to live their lives and aims to increase the number of PAs available.

Research shows that those receiving payments can be nervous about becoming an employer and the lack of a clear, universal job description can be a barrier to those considering joining the profession.

The publication is part of the personalisation agenda at the heart of the Government’s Vision for Adult Social Care to deliver services chosen by people to meet their individual needs. By 2013, everyone eligible should be offered a personal budget to spend on the best care package for them. It is estimated that by 2025 this could create nearly 1.2 million Personal Assistant jobs - there are currently less than 200,000 people working as Personal Assistants in England.

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said:

"Many company executives would describe their PA as a life-saver, but for those who employ a personal assistant for their social care needs, they really do give them back their life. Being able to set the job description spelling out exactly what support you need and when, can be liberating. Its much better than trying to fit your life around Local Authority-commissioned services."

"I've seen today in Essex what can be achieved when social services work together with people who need personal assistants to make sure both they and their PA are fully supported. The difference it has made to these peoples' lives is a clear reminder of why personalisation is so important and is at the heart of our plans for social care."

The new framework will:

  • Provide employers with an up to date toolkit to make the practical side of employment easier to understand including job descriptions and interviewing.
  • Develop an induction framework so all PAs have the same basic introduction to the role based on the Common Induction Standards developed by Skills for Care.
  • Create a clear, national toolkit including templates for contracts and other legal aspects of employment. This will be regularly reviewed and updated.
  • Use Local Authorities to assist in background and reference checking where requested.
  • Work with Job Centre Plus to make all staff aware of PAs as a career option for job seekers.

In some areas employers and PAs already receive all this support and more - but it isn't the norm. This Framework will also look to help share best practice so everyone has access to the same information and support.

Paul Burstow, this morning, visited ecdp (formerly Essex Coalition of Disabled People), a disabled person’s user-led organisation which offers a high level of support to people employing Personal Assistants including a full payroll service and access to training and development opportunities for Personal Assistants. They currently support nearly 4,000 people to employ personal assistants.

Anyone looking for information or support on hiring or becoming a Personal Assistant should visit

Source: Department of Health

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