Employing your own care and support

Employing your own care and support gives you choice and control about how you’re supported.

It also means that you become an ‘individual employer’ and are responsible for recruiting, managing and training your personal assistants (PAs).

This might seem daunting at first but there’s lots of help out there.

Individual employer, Claire Steeples, who won Skills for Care’s ‘Best individual who employs their own care and support’ award, shares her top tips to help other people to employ their own PAs.

1. Write down your ideal personal assistant

“I only recruit PAs who have the right values. When I advertise for a new PA, I write a clear job description and person specification that reflects the role and the type of person that I need to employ” says Claire.

When you’re recruiting for a PA, think about what makes your ideal candidate and include this in the job advert and description.

Think about:

  • their skills
  • their values
  • the jobs that you’d like them to do
  • your own cultural and religious needs.

2. Advertise in the right places

In our research, we found that word of mouth was the most successful way of recruiting a new PA.

But there are lots of other ways you can advertise for a PA. For example, when Claire’s recruiting a new PA she uses:

  • Hampshire PA finder (a website that the local council and clinical commissioning group (CCG) support)
  • Portsmouth Council’s PA noticeboard
  • social media including Facebook and Twitter
  • word of mouth
  • leaflets in the community
  • careers fairs.

Your direct payment or personal health budget adviser or local support organisation may have other helpful suggestions.

3. Give new personal assistants a good induction

When your PA starts you should plan an induction to explain what you want them to do, how you want things to be done and introducing them to their workplace.

Claire uses the relevant sections of the Care Certificate to support induction, alongside other training.

She told us: “when new PAs start, they learn about the ways that I want to be supported. New PAs shadow the trainer or manager for the first few weeks to ensure that they’re competent and feel confident to work alone. PAs can request extra 2:1 support if needed.”

4. Develop your personal assistants through training

Training ensures that your PAs have the skills and knowledge to do their job well and safely.

Claire’s committed to developing her team of PAs.

She shares: “each PA has a personal development folder which records all the necessary training that they’ve done and outlines any development needs they have.

“The team has done lots of training that’s personalised to my needs, including:

  • Picture Exchange Communication (PECS)
  • Positive Behaviour Support (PBS)
  • Makaton sign language

5. Do regular supervisions

Supervisions give you the chance to catch up about what’s going well and what isn’t working so well.

Claire does regular supervisions with her PAs to maintain a good working relationship. She told us: “for the first six months after they start, my PAs have a supervision every month. After this period, they have a supervision every three months.

“They also have regular Periodic Service Reviews (PSR) which scores them in the key areas of support. This helps us to identify any areas for development.

“I encourage the team to give feedback in between supervisions and appraisals. We have a communication book where PAs can leave messages and ideas, the team has regular staff meetings as well as a WhatsApp group.”

Find out more

Skills for Care’s ‘Employing personal assistants toolkit’ guides you through the process of employing your own PA.

It includes advice and templates around:

  • recruiting a PA
  • before your PA starts
  • managing your PA
  • sorting out problems.

Visit the free online toolkit here.

You can email Skills for Care for a free, paper copy of the toolkit at marketing@skillsforcare.org.uk