The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership estimates there are 700 Personal Assistant in Care vacancies at any one time, with a total workforce of over 8,000 PAs needed to support all those with learning or physical disabilities or other health conditions who require help with day to day life. However, these employers – disabled people, or families – can struggle with finding PAs when they need them. According to research from the social care organisation that supports all social care employers Skills for Care, more than half direct payment (when people are given a health or social care budget to spend themselves rather than receiving support arranged by the local council or NHS trust) employers report that recruitment is a problem.
Local Personal Assistant, Megg Ashwell, 24, is raising awareness of the role and encouraging others to follow in her career footsteps to support the thousands of disabled people across the region who need support to live their life to the full.
Megg, who works in Ramsbottom supporting a number of disabled young people, said: “I started my career as a Personal Assistant in Care when I gate-crashed my sister’s job interview. I was looking for a part time job alongside my studies. I soon decided there was no way I couldn’t do this full time. The role can be hard work, and includes undertaking personal care for people. However, I love that part of my role is to help people have the best time they can with activities that they enjoy – going out and about, to the cinema, shopping and out for meals. The best part of being a PA is watching these young people blossom in new environments, find little bits of independence where they can, and of course, the laughter and smiles.”
Megg is now encouraging others to join her in the profession. She says to people who might be interested: “Don’t delay because you won’t regret it. This job isn’t what you’d think a caring role would be, there’s no uniforms, and you’re not stuck in one place. Being a PA is amazing, every day is different, you’ll love it.”
Michelle Romdhani’s brother was a vibrant hard-working young man with a happy future in front of him. This all changed unimaginably when in April 2012 he was assaulted leaving him with many complex health needs and severe brain damage. Michelle shared how a team of Personal Assistants have helped support Mark to live a different but happy and healthy future despite the challenges of the last eight years.
Michelle said: “Mark changed radically once his team of Personal Assistants were in place. He went from existing to having a future. A guy who was told he would stay in bed all day now has his own home and is working to develop his own business. He needs good support to achieve and maintain this life but he is happy and has lots to look forward to. I hope my family’s story will encourage caring people looking for a career move to consider becoming a Personal Assistant – you have a real opportunity to make change happen for more people like us.”
Zoe Porter, Personalisation Lead at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said: “One of the many lessons we’ve learnt this year is how some previously under-valued jobs are crucial to our country. Across Greater Manchester we estimate that at least 8000 Personal Assistants in Care are supporting disabled people through the pandemic. I’d consider them to be hidden heroes. The difference Personal Assistants in Care make to the lives of disabled people and their families is huge, but it’s not a job many have heard of. Now we are spreading the word about this unique role so that others can consider it as a career.”
“If you thought being a Personal Assistant was just about wearing a suit and working in an office. think again. Disabled people across Greater Manchester are looking for people to help keep them happy, healthy and safe. We need more brilliant people to work with those who need care and support to live a good life. The role is unique, diverse, worthwhile and flexible. Anyone who values being caring and making a difference should consider a new career as a Personal Assistant in Care and find out more.”
Skills for Care research shows PAs have a lower turnover rate (16.7%), take fewer sick days (1.7), have more experience in the adult social care sector (9.6 years average) versus other care workers (40.6%, 5, 6.3 years respectively).
If you’re looking for your next move and think this might be for you, visit greatermanchesterpa.org.uk to learn more, and to find vacancies near you.