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Tips for Hiring a Personal Assistant

Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,662 Disability Gamechanger
edited June 2019 in Parents and carers

When the times comes to hire a Personal Assistant (PA) it can seem like a very big task, especially if this is something you have not done before. Essentially the role of a PA in this instance is support a disabled person to live their life as independently and fully as possible.

What have people said about having a PA?

My PA Carer doesn’t do things for me, she helps me do things for myself. She’s given me my independence back by supporting me, and I am so grateful for all she does. - Leah
Having a PA has enabled me to do so much more than I ever thought. I was so against the idea at first, as the thought of accepting help from anyone outside of my family truly scared me. 4 years later and I am loving life - living independently alongside my four legged friend. I am forever looking for my next adventure and without this support, it would never be possible. - Ross
For me, having personal assistants completely changed my life. I'm not going to lie, at first I found it strange inviting someone into my home and asking them to help me with things only my family and close friends only had done in the past. But now, it's second nature and it means I can live the life I want to, rather than relying on others and feeling bad for doing so. It's also taught me how to be confident with communicating and being an employer, from the age of 18! - Gem
Having PA's was the making of me. Sure, in the beginning it was scary with lots to learn. But as a result I've achieved so much like writing a book of my travels and work for social change. - Martyn

With this in mind, here are some top tips we think might help with the process.

Writing a job description

All of the links suggested have this as a strong starting point. It’s important to know what kind of person you would like to work for you and to know what their job description would look like. This would be a great chance to sit down and have a think about the things you may require support with.

For people with conditions that can change daily, this can be more of a challenge, but don’t worry. Having a list of responsibilities doesn’t mean this is all set in stone, but it is important to be realistic.

Similarly, what level of training would you require your PA to have? Or what kind of person are you looking for?

Advertising for a PA

Next you would need to advertise the position. This can be done through online job sites, a local PA registers or even on social media. It’s important that the advert is comprehensive and allows potential employees to understand more about the role they are applying for.

Scope advice and Skills for Care suggest you include the following on the advert:

  • What the job involves (the job description)
  • How much it pays
  • How people should apply, with contact details
  • If you want them to have any qualifications
  • What kind of checks they will need to pass before they start, for example, references, right to work in the UK and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

When collating a list of potential interviewees, I found it helpful to make a list or a spreadsheet of everyone’s information, experience, qualifications and interests. This will allow you to see at a glance who you believe may be most suited for the role.

Interviewing potential PA’s

When you believe you have a suitable number of candidates or have reached the deadline you put on the advert, it’s good idea to take a step back and review the applications. From experience, it can be very easy to get lost in the applications and completely forget who is who!

A list of potential interview questions can be found here on the Scope website.

You want the interview to be fairly informal which will allow you to see if you would get on with this person and whether or not you feel they would be capable of the role. The interview is also a great chance for them to ask you question about your needs and about what would be expected of them.

Hiring a PA!

If you think you have found the perfect person then this is great! You can offer them the position and request references. It may be useful to arrange a trial shift before they start where they can get a true feel for the role. It will also be a great chance for you to see how compatible you are.

However, it’s okay to reopen applications or look at hiring a PA through an agency. Sometimes it can take a bit of time to find someone who has the availability and characteristics that you are looking for. Similarly, depending on the hours you have funding for, more than one person may be required. Having someone as bank staff can be great if your PA falls ill or goes on holiday!

Hopefully by the end of this process you have found a PA who will be able to assist you whenever required. If you need to apply for funding to cover the cost of a PA, I would highly advise doing this before you look into the hiring process. The links below should help.

Useful links

What do you believe makes a good PA? Let us know in the comments below!

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Replies

  • April2018momApril2018mom Member - under moderation Posts: 2,882 Member - under moderation
    Thanks. These are useful. I’m currently trying to hire a childcare provider myself. I have interviewed a number of potential applicants and candidates over the past three weeks and one thing I always ask about is skills.
    Other questions focus on references and qualifications. I always note if eye contact is made when I ask difficult questions. I always type up a short list of qualities which I include in the job description.
    All candidates are invited to a interview. As part of the process I watch them playing with my children. 
  • AilsAils Community champion Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    These are really good tips for hiring a PA.  I used to work beside a lady who had a couple of PA's to support her both at work and at home.  I always remember thinking how well they worked as a team and they really used to have a good rapport in the workplace.  I guess getting on with each other is a main requirement between PA and employer and the ability to do the job well, of course.  :smile:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Great tips. My daughter has a PA paid for by direct payments. Luckily i didn't have to do any of the advertising because it was all done through payroll. They asked me what i wanted for my daughter, age, what was needed from the PA and hours per week, they then advertised the vacancy.

    2 people applied for the job, which i gave an informal interview to both of them at my home. Yes, my daughter was with me during the interviews. I asked a few simple questions, told them what i expected from them and what they needed to do. My daughter and myself spoke about which one she preferred and then offered the job to one of them.

    13 months later and my daughter still has the same PA. She's older than my daughter, which really makes no difference to her. They get along amazingly well together and she supports her outside in the community for shopping, cinema, short holidays and support at home in the kitchen. She flexible and can change her times/days to suit my daughter when she needs it. She's amazing and she's helped my daughter in so many ways i really can't thank her enough for everything she does.

    We are moving house soon and despite our new home being 9 miles and a further 25 minute drive for her, she's agreed to continue to support her. I'm truely grateful for everything she does and i can't imagine having anyone else to support my daughter. She's definitely one of the family now. We love her.
    Community champion and proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice i have given to members here on the community.
  • April2018momApril2018mom Member - under moderation Posts: 2,882 Member - under moderation
    We haven’t reached that stage yet. However lately I’ve been talking with my son’s amazing social worker about some extra support for my son.
    What would you look for in a PA? How do I draft a job description and personal specification? What kind of skills and qualities are needed? I’m hoping to invite all potential applicants and respondents to a short interview at my apartment.
    What about checks and references? How would I handle all of that? How many questions would you ask candidates? 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,662 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @April2018mom, that's great that you made lists, I imagine they came in handy when trying to decide :)
    If you look at the useful links this should give you templates for all of these (I believe it is the Skills for Care link)
    References can be obtained by asking the potential employee for contact details of a reference. If the PA is hired through direct payments then they will do a DBS check as part of the process and support that they provide. 

    @Ails, thank you. I'm glad you found it useful! Oh definitely! I have had PA's for 3 years while at university and getting along with them has been crucial!

    Thanks @poppy123456, that's great that the advertising aspect was all catered for, I imagine that was a huge weight lifted! I'm so glad it has worked so well! This is amazing to hear and I'm so happy for you and your daughter as I totally understand the massive impact that a great PA can have on your life. Thanks for sharing, I hope it keeps working! :)
    Community Partner
    Scope

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