Employing Personal Assistants (pas)

What age do you start employing PAs for your child?

The general consensus was to start as early as possible and start by doing fun activities together rather than personal care in order to build trust. It might start with just an hour at a time.

What hours do your PAs work?

This will depend on how many hours you have funding for. It is important to use all the hours allocated as you may lose the funding for hours if you don’t use them. How you ask your PA to work their hours is up to you. For young people who have 24 hour care they may employ a number of PAs on a variety of shift patterns, for example, 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. Some might just work afternoons etc.

What boundaries do you set? Should you be friends with your PAs?

Some families have experienced their children getting upset when their PAs leave so suggested it is good to set boundaries early if possible. As the child gets older it is important for the PA to have boundaries as they are there to care for the young person, not just to be a friend to go out drinking with. Some parents did say that over time some PAs do tend to become friends and some keep in touch even after they have moved to other jobs.

How do you manage them?

It takes time to get it right and how you manage PAs is up to you. If you don’t want to have to manage any issues or concerns directly you might want to hire PAs from an agency as they will then deal with all the management issues for you.

How do you deal with having other people in the house, particularly at night?

Again, this is up to you. Some people choose not to have any overnight care as they don’t want to have anyone else in the house at night. It does take some getting used to having PAs in the house and this is where boundary setting can be helpful.

How do you recruit PAs?

Some people use an agency and others employ people directly. When recruiting directly people found that word of mouth could be effective, also targeted adverts, for example in a local college or university. Others have advertised on sites such as Gum Tree and on social media.

Disability Rights UK have a factsheet called "Being in Control: Getting Personal Assistants (PAs)" which looks at the benefits of having a PA as well as how to find and fund a PA. The leaflet can be downloaded by clicking here.

Organisations that can help recruit PAs include:

  • Ask Jules - manage and support young disabled adults to run their personal budgets and can assist with recruiting and employing PAs:  
  • CarePair - free online service set up by a disabled person to help match disabled people and carers / PAs 
  • PA Pool - provide members with a database of PAs
  • Penderels Trust - a registered charity that assists disabled people to find / advertise for a PA. Phone 0845 0500 862 or visit their website
  • The Rowan Foundation - advertise PA and carer vacancies  

How do you fund PAs?

PAs can be funded through a variety of different funding packages. For example:

  • Personal Budget – a sum of money to meet social care and support needs. For more information please click here
  • Personal Health Budget – for an individual’s NHS health and wellbeing needs. For more information please click here.
  • Continuing Health Care – package of care and support funded solely by the NHS for people over 18 years old. For more information please click here
  • Direct Payments - one way of managing these budgets, where you get the cash to buy the agreed care and support needed. More information is available from here and the following organisations:
    • Contact a Family on 0808 808 3555 or on their website.
    • Disability Rights UK
    • Enham Trust on 01264 345 800 or on their website.
    • Penderels Trust on 0845 0500 862 or on their website.
    • The Rowan Organisation on 0845 608 8048 or on their website.

Do you have different PAs at home and at university?

If young people live away from home when at university then they will most likely have different PAs when they are at university to when they are at home, but they will still be paid for by the ‘home’ local authority. Universities should have a disability officer who can help with the recruitment of PAs. Some use the volunteer service Volunteering Matters (formerly CSV - Community Service Volunteers).

Do young people manage their own PAs?

It is good for young people to manage their own PAs as they will need to do this if they choose to live independently when they are older.

Training for PAs?

Ask your social worker for information. Organisations such as Ask Jules, Care Pair, PA Pool, Penderels Trust and the Rowan Foundation might also be able to help. You will also want to do your own training with the PA to suit your and your child’s needs.