Becoming a PA

By Angie, our Personalisation Trainer, and Vici, our Community Care and Personalisation Team Manager

The role of a Personal Assistant has been an amazing job for many years, but what is involved and how does it differ from other more traditional care roles? Who created the job title and why? These are some of the questions the Personalisation Team at Disability North are asked every week from people who are curious about Personal Assistant jobs they have seen advertised.

The explanation of what this job is all about can be totally transformational for people who need a PA too. When we explain it, people realise the difference between being dependent on a person, which may be the case with traditional care, or employing a person to enable you to be independent and have control of your life.

It is useful to take a trip back to the late 1970s to explain. Back then if you had an impairment, which meant you needed support, there was hardly any other option than to live in a residential home. Disabled people spent years fighting for their freedom and eventually in 1996 the Direct Payments Act was passed through government. This gave local authorities the ability to pay individuals money, so they could use it to employ Personal Assistants. Imagine how much cheaper this is for local authorities, than paying for places in residential homes or even paying a care agency. The financial savings are huge, but the biggest impact is on the happiness of disabled people.

Personal Assistants are employed directly by the person or a family member or friend, rather than an agency or third party. This means they write the job description and choose a person they feel will fit into their life and enable them to do everything they want to do. Personal Assistants may be asked to support with personal care, housework, and cooking meals, but the main difference is that they won’t be asked to do this by someone who doesn’t really know the person. Times to arrive, times to go home and everything you do when you are at work are determined by the person you are supporting. It’s hopefully never rushed and always exciting as you simply support a person to live their life. This may be anything from clubbing in Ibiza, to tea and scones in a local café. Supporting a person while they are at work or going on a day out with their kids. The possibilities are endless…

Every person on this planet is unique! We all have things we love, things we don’t, different values, hobbies, things we are good at and things we find difficult. This is one of the great things about the Personal Assistant role. With a comprehensive advert and job description people can apply for the jobs, closest to what they enjoy and are good at. Once people have met and got to know each other, it is wonderful when personalities click.  

Finding a good match is so important for both the employer and the Personal Assistant. This role enables the employer to think about how they want to interact with their Personal Assistant. Some may be comfortable with their Personal Assistant being a big part of their family and social life. If friendship and meeting new people is important to you, this could be a perfect match. Other people may want to keep the relationship entirely professional and need a Personal Assistant who can be discreet and occupy themselves when needed. Whatever the style of Personal Assistant relationship works best, always being mindful of achieving the right balance, respect, and appreciation of it being a job that has a massive impact on a person’s life.

A lot of work we do at Disability North is around Direct Payments, which is the funding that enables an individual to arrange their own care and support. At the moment, there are a lot more people who need Personal Assistants, than people applying, so we need more fantastic people to apply and find out what a fantastic opportunity these jobs are. Many people have told us, how working as a Personal Assistant has proved to be a fantastic career move for them as they have progressed their career.  

If you want to know more, you can do the following: –