Some local authorities run services to help disabled people and PAs to meet. You can ask your local authority about personal assistant registers in your area. They might call this ‘brokerage’.
Your local authority may also help with things like recruitment, payroll and tax. Depending on your area, they may support you themselves or put you in touch with organisations that provide these services. But they’re not required to do this.
If you hire a personal assistant through a care and support agency, they will be the employer. This may be a good choice if you’re not confident being an employer yourself as they will manage everything for you.
You can use a mix of local authority support, agency or being an employer. A mix of services could involve getting help with recruitment but being an independent employer.
Agencies can also help to supplement care if you need several PAs but you want some control over who you hire. The agency may also be able to provide care if the PA you employ is unavailable, like for holiday leave or if they’re sick.
Your local authority has to provide some personal care assistance and independent living services. But the type and flexibility of services will vary for each area.
Talk to your assessor about what the options are and what will suit you and your needs.
Deciding on the best option
It’s up to you which option you decide to go with. There is no right or wrong way.
Some people decide to employ an agency first to help them to get started. When they feel more comfortable and confident with the process, they move on to hire their own PA.
Factors that can help you decide could be:
level of your control
confidence to manage admin
what’s available to you
Consider the benefits against the monetary and personal cost. It’s important to balance what you want, need and what’s available to set expectations on what you can get.
It’s also important to balance the needs that affect your safety with the needs that affect your wellbeing. Ask yourself what you want.
Think about what you must have and what you’re willing to compromise on. What is more important to you? Are there other ways to get what you want?
Do you want the control of choosing your PA and having people you know and trust?
Do you want an agency to manage the admin?
Could using a payroll service help you to employ a PA rather than hiring an agency?
Consider whether the local authority, an agency or hiring your own PA will best meet these needs.
Do you need 24-hour care, multiple PAs and care cover at short notice?
Find out what services are available in your area to help you to get the right support. You could do this through online searches, looking on your local authority website or speaking to your care co-ordinator.
If you want help with skills like being assertive, managing stress or budgeting, you could look for services that offer adult education.
These could be:
disabled people’s organisations in your area
community groups or classes
educational groups like the adult education service
local or online courses or talks
You can find information about these from leaflets or adverts in your doctor’s surgery, local newspaper or magazine, or on message boards at community centres, town halls, libraries and even supermarkets. Others you may be able to find online. Some may be free and others you might need to pay for.