Employing personal assistants - a PA - gives children and their parents choice and control about how they’re supported.
A PA can support people with lots of things including social activities, getting ready, meal times and at school or college.
It also means that they become an ‘individual employer’ and are responsible for recruiting, managing and training their PAs.
This might seem daunting at first but there’s lots of help out there.
Nadia Clarke is an individual employer and has employed a team of PAs since she was 8 years of age.
From the age of 8 to 18 I was supported by a team of 15 PA’s. They greeted me after school, helped with my homework and supported me at teatime. They also helped me to go out on a weekend for example shopping or to the cinema.
They joined me on family days out and when I was a bit older, they supported me to see the world on holidays abroad.
When we started looking for PAs, I had a fantastic social worker from the disabled children’s team. They listened to mine and my family’s thoughts and feelings, and agreed and shared the direct payments pathway that best suited my needs. We also made contact with other families who shared their experiences and knowledge with us.
My Mum and Dad helped with recruiting and inducting PAs. When PAs started, they shadowed my parents to learn how to best support me with feeding, drinking, accessing the toilet and being out in the community.
My parents also ensured that my PAs had the right training so they could support me well.
Employing PAs has helped with my own independence. It’s allowed me to go out on a weekend and not feel like I had to be with my parents all the time. Don’t get me wrong I love my parent’s, but growing up it was lovely going out and having fun with PA’s, and not feeling I had to ask my parents to do so.
It also meant that my parents had more time for their other children, work commitments and housekeeping duties.
The transition between children’s and adults services was a challenging time, but my team and family were very supportive and I still have the same PAs now. The fact that I know I can wake up and do as I wish is an absolute dream which enables me to reach the goals that I set for myself. I continue to live the life that I want to live and have the freedom that I deserve with the support of my PA’s and family members.
Find out more about employing your own personal assistant on Skills for Care’s toolkit at www.employingpersonalassistants.co.uk
If you get a personal health budget and employ your own PAs (or support a child who does), you can apply for money for training. Find out more at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/PHBholders.
Please note this funding isn’t available for direct payment holders who are under 18.