Are you looking for a ‘P.A’ (Personal Assistant)?
This is someone who is employed by the family or young disabled person. It is not a care role in the traditional sense and can involve personal care as well as many other tasks that you decide need doing. There are fewer legal requirements when recruiting a PA to support you, however there are still some issues you need to bear in mind to ensure you meet employment law standards.
The first step is identifying that your child and your family needs some help.
You can get a referral to the Children with Disabilities Team Dudley, by contacting your local authority yourself or by speaking to your child’s GP, health visitor, teacher, parent partnership worker or youth worker. What you need to request is a ‘child in need assessment’.
From September 2014, any child or young person aged between 0-25 years old can be assessed, and may receive support through an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan. If your child meets the threshold for an EHC plan, then you are entitled to ask for a personal budget so that you can tailor support for your child and family.
Local arrangements will vary, but local authorities will be able to point you to organisations that can support you. Families are advised to refer to The SEND code of practice when speaking to their local authority so they understand what their child may be legally entitled to. However please bear in mind that each local authority may interpret this differently depending on their local eligibility criteria.
The level of support you think you need, and the money you have available will influence what type of support you decide to use. Don’t forget, if you find something is not working for your family, for whatever reason, then you can look again at other options.
You may feel able to go through the process of sorting out support for your child on your own as a family but it can be really useful to have someone to help you. It’s not always straightforward and having someone else to offer an objective view of what’s happening can be invaluable.
In all instances if you have the funding available, you can either decide to recruit and manage a support worker yourself, or go through an agency for independent support and advice. This can be provided from the direct payment providers such as Ideal for All, Local Support Team, People Plus and Kids
For parents and carers looking to recruit a Personal Assistant (PA) using direct payments please visit the Dudley Family Information Service Directory which provides a directory of PA’s.
The advantage of doing it yourself is the freedom and flexibility it gives you, as well as saving on management fees and other overheads that providers have to include in their charges. You have direct control over who supports your child, what hours they work, and how they work. The potential disadvantage is that you will need the time and skills to do it and will be taking on more responsibility.
There are several types of support provider, including profit-making companies, not-for-profit companies or registered charities and co-operatives.
The advantage of using a provider is that it saves you time and reduces your responsibilities. The potential disadvantages are the extra costs and the reduced control; you may not be able to have the same person all the time, or you may have to compromise on the hours they work, and you may not have much choice over who is employed to support you and your child.
If you decide to contract a self-employed worker, make sure you check that their work will be classed as self-employed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
There have been a few cases where self-employed workers have been found to be employed and the family who hired them has been asked to pay for outstanding tax and national insurance, which had not been budgeted for.
There is an online guide to self-employed status that tells you whether a person is self-employed or not that you can find here.
Whether you employ someone or recruit a self-employed worker, it is important that you get good references and that each person has a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to ensure your family can trust the people working for you. You can check the DBS register here.
Employing someone, and the responsibility that it brings, can seem like a daunting task but there are organisations that support and advise small employers with things like payroll, employment contracts, DBS checks and insurance.
In many areas, these services are available through a User-Led Organisation, such as a Centre for Independent Living. Some employer insurance companies provide free employment law advice as part of the insurance. Or you may have friends or relatives with particular skills who will be willing to help.
Think about the personal attributes a PA should have if they are going to support your child in the best way possible.
Think about exactly what help you need before you employ someone or sign a contract with an agency. It may be helpful to think about a typical day for you, and write a job description. This should include:
- a list of all the tasks you may need help with
- any particular skills or qualifications they must have (e.g. a childcare qualification or a full driving licence)
- an estimate of the number of hours and days you will need the person to work
A direct payment is a payment, paid to families/carers to provide care instead of Children’s services providing the care directly. Direct payments give you more choice and control over how support services are provided. If you have been assessed by the Children with disabilities team as being in need of support services you maybe entitled to receive Direct payments. You may qualify if you are;
- aged over 16 and have a physical, sensory or learning disability or mental health problem
- a parent, carer or guardian of a child with a disability
- a carer aged over 16 years
Funding for employer and or PA training
If you employ your own care and support staff, you can apply to Skills for Care to get money for training for you and your personal assistant. The money that is available is called individual employer funding. See Individual Employer Funding for further information.
Online Adult and Children’s Safeguarding Training available to everyone receiving direct payments and their PAs
Dudley MBC has online training to provide you and your child/the person you care for with information about keeping safe. We strongly recommend you and any PAs you employ undertake the Adult course and Children’s course if appropriate.
For further information regarding Direct Payments you can contact Dudley’s Children with Disabilities Services on
Tel: 01384 815813 or you can download information below
Help with direct payments Direct Payments – An easy guide Direct payments – Employing staff