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*. They are often unseen 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.

Despite being the second largest workforce in social care, you’d be forgiven for not knowing about the role of Personal Assistants in Care. Most people, when they think of a Personal Assistant, think of a PA in an office doing business and admin tasks.

However, there is another Personal Assistant role – one that supports people eligible for day to day help from social care or health services to live a good life. Rather than being an employee of a care agency or a care home these staff are employed directly by the disabled person themselves and work in their home. The disabled person has what’s known as a ‘direct payment’ for their health or care support. The beauty of this is that they can recruit staff based on the right fit for them – rather than who a care agency is able to send that day.

Many employers choose PAs based on their interests and character, noting that practical skills can be learnt, but having a good connection with someone, and being able to support them to achieve what they want to are less easy to teach.

We hear many stories of individuals and families whose lives are transformed by Personal Assistants who help them keep safe and well, follow their interests and contribute to their communities, as well as helping them with daily tasks and personal care.

We do know that 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 employers report that recruitment is a problem.

We are currently seeing more people come onto the job market, including from hospitality and retail, who could make brilliant PAs, but probably wouldn’t know about the opportunity, or where to find vacancies.

That’s why we’re raising awareness of the role that helps disabled people live independently, happily and healthily.

I’ve worked in health and care for 25 years, and I started off directly supporting people who wanted to lead the kind of life the rest of us take for granted, but who had been consigned to institutions for most of their life. The people I worked with in those early years taught me how much we all can learn from each other, and how much can be accomplished with good support, and how much fun it can be to be part of that.

We need more brilliant people to work with those who need care and support to live a good life.  If you’re looking for a unique, flexible, rewarding career where you’ll really make a difference every day then please find out more.”

For more information, and to see who to contact in each different area of Greater Manchester for vacancies, visit greatermanchesterpa.org.uk.

 

*Skills for Care estimate there are 135,000 social care PAs in England based on number of direct payment recipients, so by percentage of population there would be around 7,000 in GM plus those who employ people using health funding.

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