Health and Wellbeing

More people choose to employ a personal assistant to help them live independently at home

caring hand on vulnerable hand

Posted on: 14 May 2019

Devon’s lead Councillor responsible for adult social care and health says more must be done to encourage people to take up jobs in care and health services.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for adult health and care services, said:

“There is a shortage of people working in care and health services in Devon. The county needs more people at every level, from doctors, nurses, GPs and pharmacists, to agency-employed care workers and personal assistants working in communities.”

The comment comes as the council launches a new promotion to boost the appointment of personal assistants – people who provide services, such as gardening, cleaning, shopping, meal preparation and personal care to older or vulnerable people living in their own homes.

People eligible for Council-funded support are offered Direct Payments, the cash equivalent to the cost of the care they need, and the person can choose how to spend that money to meet their care needs.

“In Devon, almost a thousand people who take a Direct Payment for their social care needs choose to employ a personal assistant”, said Cllr Leadbetter.

“It’s an indication that when people are given choice about how they want to spend their Direct Payment, a significant number of people are employing people who are delivering a wide range of help, from gardening and shopping, to picking up medication from the chemist, to delivering personal care.”

People don’t need to be in receipt of the Council’s Direct Payment to arrange for a personal assistant, also known as PAs. Anyone can arrange for this sort of help at home.

People will often choose to become a PA because of the flexibility and control it gives them over their working hours. Hours are agreed directly between the client and the personal assistant.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter portrait picture“Like agency-employed care workers, PAs can also provide an invaluable service to help people live as independently as possible in their own home”, said Cllr Leadbetter.

“They are able to work in a very personalised or person-centred way to provide support. And that’s highly valued among those people who choose to arrange their own care.

“We already encourage people to consider careers in care work, employed by care agencies, but we’d also like to encourage people to consider becoming PAs.”

The council has created an online database of community services, called Pinpoint Devon, and is inviting people who work as personal assistants to register their contact details for free on the directory.

There is a section of the directory specifically for PAs, called the ‘PA register’. PAs can advertise their services to people; and it also allows people to advertise when they need a PA.

“Pinpoint Devon is used by thousands of people each month to find local services in their community. It’s a great place for PAs to advertise their services for free,” said Cllr Leadbetter.

“There are nearly 200 PAs on the PA register, but we know that there are more than that number operating in Devon.”

Unlike care agencies, employed personal assistants are not regulated by Care Quality Commission, so the PA register on Pinpoint also includes advice to people when employing someone in that role. People who employ PAs can access funding for essential training from organisations like Skills For Care.

Cllr Leadbetter said,

“We would like to see more personal assistants join the care workforce and advertise on the PA register.

“There are also likely to be people who are already doing similar jobs for others – bits of cleaning, or gardening, picking up some shopping, or providing some personal care – who wouldn’t necessarily think of themselves as personal assistants. We would encourage people who are already working in this way, or are considering a career in care, to visit the PA register on Pinpoint Devon to find out more.”

2 comments on “More people choose to employ a personal assistant to help them live independently at home

  1. Ros Baron says:

    Such a great way of providing flexible for care for those that need it in the community. Hopefully the PA concept will give great independence and choice. Thanks DCC for making this option available. One further thought, it would be worth promoting this scheme to local voluntary caring organisations ie South Brent Caring etc to help them help others in their community.

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