A personal assistant (sometimes called a PA or a support worker) is employed by people who need social care, either because of their age or disability, to enable them to live as independently as possible in the way they choose.
Personal assistants carry out a wide range of tasks as required by the employer, including support with things such as washing and getting dressed, cooking, feeding, assisting with clerical tasks and supporting people to go out and about so they have greater independence and the ability to live their life more fully.
Who employs a personal assistant?
A PA is usually employed by people who are managing their own care through a direct payment or individual budgets from the local authority, or are funding their own support. This is about a person having control over their own life, by employing their own staff and organising their own services. These types of employers are often referred to as ‘individual employers’.
Personal assistants can be employed directly by one employer or can work for a number of different people.
Individual employers have employer’s liability insurance and where necessary are registered with HMRC. Individual employers should also offer the necessary training to do the duties required.
The key skills needed for being a PA are the ability to listen, be flexible and a willingness to learn and respond.
Some PAs have started to work together as a group or 'pool' to offer their services to employees/employers as a group. It is important for such groups to consider whether or not they need to register with theCQC. You may find the attached document useful.
- PA working and CQC registration
- Download (399KB)
Self - Employed PAs
Some PAs may consider themselves to be self-employed. It is well-recognised that in most instances a PA's work is unlikely to fulfil the HMRC criteria for self-employed status.
In order to work out if a PA self employed or not, consider the following:
- Do they have to do the work yourself?
- Can someone tell them at any time what to do, where to carry out the work or when and how to do it?
- Can they work a set amount of hours?
- Can someone move them from task to task?
- Are they paid by the hour, week or month?
- Can they get overtime payments or a bonus?
- Do they Provide equipment or supplies for tasks to be performed?
If the answer is 'yes' to most of these questions, then the PA is probably and employee.
If the PA is truly self employed then most of the following would probably apply:
- Be able to send someone in their place
- Risk their own money
- Provided their own equipment
- Agree a fixed price to carry out the work for you regardless of how long it will take
- Would decide what they did, how and when they did it
- Would work regularly for a number of different people
- Have to correct unsatisfactory work at their own cost and in their own time
These would usually apply to someone like a PLUMBER or HAIRDRESSER doing work in someone's home.
If you are in any doubt about employment status, HMRC provide useful a useful employment status indicator om their website here
What does the role of a personal assistant involve?
The job can be very flexible, offering part-time and full time work on different days and at different times. Some people become a personal assistant part time whilst also working in an entirely different job.
The role is suitable for people from all walks of life, from someone in college who may only want to work evening or weekends, to someone who is retired and may only want a few hours a week.
What are the qualities that employers value in their personal assistant?
- flexibility – support the employer the way they want to be supported.
- boundaries – understand the professional and personal boundaries.
- adaptability – adapt to the context and circumstances of the employer.
- motivation and self esteem – are important qualities to an employer but also very individual.
- trust – very important quality that is central and underpins other areas about the PA.
- privacy – the ability to keep things private and keep to ground rules about privacy.
- culture - this relates to the life style of the individual and knowing now someone likes something done.
- values and attitudes – employers value PAs who understand how to work on the basis of equality with their employer.
Are you still interested in finding employment as a Personal Assistant?
Below are some of the organisations that offer opportunities for you to register yourself for work as a Personal Assistant.
- PA working and CQC registration
- Download (399KB - PDF)