PA strategy aims to boost numbers


New government guidance aims to boost the number of personal assistants (PAs), and make it easier for disabled people to employ them.

The new framework for supporting personal assistants in adult social care was launched this week by care services minister Paul Burstow, at the offices of Essex Coalition of Disabled People (ECDP) in Chelmsford.

The framework has been “co-produced” by the Department of Health (DH) in partnership with organisations including the National Centre for Independent Living, other user-led organisations, local authorities, individual PAs and disabled employers of PAs.

The government said the strategy would provide support for PAs and their employers, but stressed that the framework was just a “starting point for further work”.

The framework says the government will work with its partners to ensure that employers of PAs have access to the right advice and support, including information on the practical side of employment such as how to interview potential employees and draw up job descriptions.

Councils will carry out background and reference checks on potential PAs if asked to do so by disabled employers, while the government will ensure Jobcentre Plus staff are “well informed” about working as a PA.

The government will also continue to examine a possible voluntary register of social care workers – to include PAs – by 2013.

Mike Adams, ECDP’s chief executive, said: “We have worked closely with the minister and his colleagues to ensure the strategy he is launching today will work for people on a day-to-day basis.”

Burstow praised the coalition’s work and said: “Personal assistants can make a huge difference to people’s lives and by offering practical support like payroll services and access to training, the staff and volunteers here have helped nearly 4,000 people to make the most of this opportunity.

“The difference it has made to these people’s lives is a clear reminder of why personalisation is so important and is at the heart of our plans for social care.”

The new strategy is part of the government’s plans for the personalisation of adult social care. By 2013, the government wants every eligible service-user to be offered a personal budget to spend on their own care package.

It has estimated that by 2025 this could create nearly 1.2 million PA jobs in England, compared to the current total of less than 200,000.

28 July 2011