Last updated: 21 June 2023
A personal assistant (or PA) is somebody that you can employ to help you with your day to day care and support needs. This could be anything from doing your weekly shop to help getting ready in the morning. Other areas that personal assistants can provide support with include:
- personal care: for example, washing
- paying bills
- leisure activities including hobbies
- household tasks: for example, gardening, shopping cleaning
- going to work and/or studying
Personal assistants are employed at your discretion. You may wish to self-fund and pay for them with your own money. They can also be paid for via a personal budget for hours that are based on your assessed care needs.
Get support to become an employer
Citizens Advice Waltham Forest for Direct Payment Support is the council's commissioned service to help people who are given a package of care and want to use it to employ a personal assistant. They can help with :
- recruitment and interviewing
- contracts and insurances
- ongoing support post recruitment
You can contact the service at the details below.
Citizens Advice Waltham Forest for Direct Payment Support
Why employ a personal assistant?
Personal assistants offer flexible support which means you can decide exactly what you want your PA to do and when.
When you have a personal assistant, it means that you become an employer so it is important that you understand your legal obligations.
You can find out more about employing staff on the employing staff for the first time page on the GOV.UK website.
Before you look for a PA
Before you start recruiting your personal assistant you need to establish what kind of support you require. You should consider:
- what are the things I want help with?
- when do I need help and for how long?
- what are the skills my PA will need?
- what type of person do I want?
Once you have a better idea of the above you can begin the recruitment process.
How can I find a PA?
Before you employ your PA it is good practice to interview them to ensure that they are the right PA for you. Think about what type of PA that you need and the skills that are required to meet them.
You can then use this to create a set of interview questions:
- what work experience do they have?
- why do they want to work for you?
- what qualifications do they have?
- what is their availability?
You may also want to consider creating a scenario to see how the PA would respond.
Make sure that you do not interview alone.
Once you have interviewed and chosen your potential PAs you will need to undertake pre-employment checks.
What pre-employment checks are needed?
When you employ a PA you are required to undertake a number of employment checks. Please note, these checks have not been done on the PAs listed on the Personal Assistant Network and it is a legal requirement that you undertake these as the employer.
These checks are:
Right to work
This is to confirm the PA's identity and that they are legally able to work in the UK.
These are obtained from the PA’s previous or current employers to confirm their work history.
DBS (Disclosure Barring Service)
This is a criminal records check that was formerly called a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check.
Get confirmation to verify that the PA has the appropriate qualifications.
Employing personal assistants toolkit
Skills for Care is an organisation which works to create a strong adult social care workforce.
It's Employing personal assistants toolkit contains information and advice which covers the whole recruitment process. There are also letter templates, job descriptions and information on working with PAs once you have recruited.