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Employing a Personal Assistant

Employing A Personal Assistant Panel

As we age, or if you have a disability, everyday tasks can sometimes become more challenging. This can lead to a loss of independence and a feeling of isolation. Fortunately, there are a variety of support options available in Plymouth, and one such solution is a Personal Assistant (PA).

What is a Personal Assistant (PA)?

A PA is a non-medical carer who provides personalised assistance with everyday tasks in your own home. They are there to support you in maintaining your independence and living a fulfilling life. Unlike professional carers, who may focus on personal care needs, PAs offer a wider range of assistance, tailored to your specific requirements.

Plymouth City Council contracts the Enham Trust to provide a local support service and can help with advertising and recruiting staff.

How a Personal Assistant can help you

The services offered by a PA can be as varied as the individuals they support, but they could include:

  • Daily living tasks: Help with housework, meal preparation, grocery shopping, laundry, and tidying.
  • Social activities: Accompaniment to appointments, social outings, clubs, and hobbies.
  • Errands: Assistance with banking, collecting prescriptions, and running other errands.
  • Companionship: Friendly conversation, emotional support, and light entertainment.
  • Mobility support: Help with getting around the house, or assistance with using public transport.
  • Technology assistance: Guidance and support with using computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Benefits of a Personal Assistant

There are numerous benefits to having a PA, both for you and your loved ones:

  • Increased independence: A PA can help you maintain your independence in your own home for longer.
  • Improved safety: Having someone there to assist with daily tasks can help reduce the risk of accidents or falls.
  • Reduced social isolation: PAs can provide companionship and social interaction, combating feelings of loneliness.
  • Peace of mind: For families and friends, a PA can offer reassurance that their loved one is safe and well looked after.
  • Improved well-being: With assistance from a PA, you can continue to enjoy activities you love and live a more fulfilling life.

Who can benefit from a Personal Assistant?

A PA can be a valuable resource for a variety of people, including:

  • Older adults: Those who want to remain independent at home but may need some extra support with daily tasks.
  • Individuals with disabilities: People with physical or cognitive disabilities who require assistance with daily living.
  • People recovering from illness or surgery: Those who need temporary support while recovering at home.

Steps to employing a Personal Assistant

Employing a PA involves a few key steps:

  • Care needs assessment: The council will arrange a care needs assessment. This will identify your specific needs and determine if a PA is the most suitable support option.
  • Funding options: Explore potential funding options for your PA services. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for direct payments from the council or a Personal Health Budget (PHB) from the NHS.
  • Choosing a PA: Decide whether to use a reputable agency specialising in PA recruitment or recruit a PA directly. Both options have advantages and disadvantages.
  • Interview and selection: Once you have identified potential PAs, conduct interviews to find the best fit for your needs and personality.
  • Managing the employment relationship: As the employer, you'll be responsible for managing tasks such as setting clear expectations, ensuring a safe working environment, and handling payroll.

Considerations when choosing a Personal Assistant

Finding the right PA is crucial for a successful working relationship. Here are some key factors to consider when making your choice:

  • Qualifications and experience: While formal qualifications aren't always mandatory, experience working with your specific needs (e.g., dementia care, mobility assistance) is a plus.
  • Communication skills: Strong communication is essential. Ensure the PA is a good listener and can clearly understand your needs and preferences.
  • Reliability and punctuality: You need someone dependable who shows up on time for scheduled sessions.
  • Personality and compatibility: A good PA match goes beyond just skills. Look for someone you feel comfortable with and who shares similar interests, if companionship is a desired aspect.
  • References and DBS checks: It's vital to obtain references from previous clients and ensure the PA has a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

The interview process

Once you have identified a few potential PAs, it's time to conduct interviews. Here are some tips:

  • Prepare a list of questions: These should cover their experience, skills, references, availability, and hourly rate.
  • Outline your specific needs and expectations: Be clear about the tasks you require assistance with and the level of companionship you desire.
  • Conduct the interview in a comfortable setting: This allows for a relaxed conversation where you can get a good feel for the person.
  • Ask follow-up questions: Don't hesitate to delve deeper into their responses to ensure they understand your requirements.
  • Trust your gut instinct: Ultimately, choose someone you feel comfortable and confident with.

Building a positive working relationship with your Personal Assistant

  • Clear communication is key: Be clear about your expectations and preferences.
  • Provide regular feedback: Let your PA know what's working well and areas for improvement.
  • Respect and courtesy: Treat your PA with respect and courtesy, fostering a positive working environment.
  • Regular reviews: Schedule regular reviews to discuss your needs and ensure the service continues to meet your expectations.

Who can help me?

Plymouth City Council contracts the Enham Trust to provide a local support service and can help with advertising and recruiting staff.

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