Why Work as a Personal Assistant?
Working as a Personal Assistant (PA) can be very rewarding as they empower people to live as independently as possible and offer them more choice and control over how they receive support and live their life. A PA does not make decisions on behalf of their employer, but helps them to take control of their life.
The relationship between a direct payment employer and their PA is unique; working on a one-to-one basis facilitates a close working relationship and a more personal bond can be formed. As a result many PAs find they have greater professional satisfaction because they can discuss any issues which may arise and resolve them quickly and amicably with an employer whom they have gotten to know well.
A PA’s working hours can be flexible according to the need of the employer and can be agreed between the employer and PA to suit both parties. Due to the flexible nature of direct payments, there are hours and times of work available to suit most people and it can be easier to fit working as a PA around other commitments.
Typically, a person employed as a PA may find their hourly rate of pay is slightly higher than that of similar roles in other parts of the caring sector.It is not always necessary to have completed any formal training, although this is advantageous, as this is dependent on the direct payment recipients’ needs and the nature of the support they require.
A Personal Assistant’s Responsibilities
Whilst an employer will have legal responsibilities, there are also obligations to which a PA must attend.
It may be necessary, depending on the local authorities’ requirements and any agreements which they have discussed with the direct payments recipient, to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check before being able to work as a PA. In Carmarthenshire Diverse Cymru will carry out this check on behalf of the person in receipt of direct payments, however in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion the DBS application must be carried out by the employer or prospective PA.
If the job requires the use of your vehicle e.g. for transporting a disabled child to social activities, business insurance will need to be included as part of your car insurance. In these circumstances, please speak to your insurer.
It is important to be punctual and arrive at the agreed time for work: people employing PAs via direct payments have chosen to receive their care and support this way so that they can choose the times that support is provided to them.
If there are any situations where lateness is inevitable, they must be communicated with the employer as soon as possible. Not only is this good practice but some direct payment recipients have needs that require support at specific times.
Any problems that arise regarding work should be discussed with the employer at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure that any issues can be resolved quickly.
Confidentiality must be maintained at all times. Whilst it is possible that a close working relationship may develop, it is important to keep both personal and professional boundaries and the employer has the right to privacy which must be respected.
Working as a PA involves, in most cases, being in the home of the employer. A large amount of trust is placed in PAs and it is necessary to be mindful of an employer’s personal belongings.
Every employer will have their own way in which they prefer tasks to be carried out, and these will be covered in a PA’s induction. Nonetheless, it is good practice to regularly check what the employer would like done and how and not to make assumptions. Employers must be treated with dignity.
Qualities needed to become a Personal Assistant
- Interpersonal skills - to communicate effectively using an employer’s preferred method
- Reliability - good timekeeping, commitment to duties, honesty
- Respect - for the employer and their personal belongings as well as professional boundaries
- Flexibility - to meet needs that may change or develop over time
- Initiative - to work creatively on the employer’s behalf