Managing several personal assistants (PAs) does not have to be difficult. It helps if you can find an agency that can support your needs.
Work with your agency
Show the agency your care and support plan (NHS.UK). The plan includes a description of the support you need. The agency should provide personal assistants to give you this support.
Your agreement with the agency should include the tasks you expect your PAs to do.
You should also tell the agency:
if you want all male or female PAs or if you’re willing to have a mix depending on the task
if you want the same people (apart from illness or holiday cover)
which PAs you want for what tasks
when you want each personal assistant to arrive and leave to avoid gaps in your care
to give each PA a copy of your care and support plan
to contact you as soon as possible if they are unable to provide the agreed care
Some agencies may find it easier to meet your needs than others.
Getting the same carer is easier if you only need them for 5 mornings a week.
If you need a team of carers over 24 hours you’re not going to have the same carer the whole time.
Be prepared to compromise, but only if it does not affect your quality of life.
Warning Your home, your decision
It’s your home and your care so if the agency sends a PA you’re not happy with, you do not have to let them into your house.
Your agency will give you a written contract of what they will provide. Make sure it includes any additional requests outside of what’s in your care and support plan. Be aware that you may have to pay extra for anything that’s not in your original plan.
If you’re using an agency, it has responsibility for managing your PAs. Discuss all aspects of your care with the agency. They should pass this information on to your personal assistants. If you feel confident to do so, you can work directly with your PAs on some practical issues.
You might want to:
explain what you expect from your PA and what they can expect from you
organise the handover so each personal assistant knows when to arrive at work and when they can leave so there is no gap in your care (you should not expect PAs to work for more hours than they are paid)
ask them to talk to you if they’re not happy with the work
Managing relationships with PAs can be challenging. Make sure your instructions are clear, but without being rude or confrontational. If this does not work, you could try talking to the agency. If you’re still not getting the level of service you want, complain. If you need to, find another agency.
If you’re not happy with the agency’s level of service, tell them. Discuss what you’re not happy with. All good agencies will have a complaints procedure. They should also have a staff grievance procedure. Ask about these before you use them.
If making a complaint does not work, you could find another agency. Changing agency is much easier if you fund your own care or if there’s a lot of agencies in your area.
Managing sensitive tasks
Your agency may be unable to guarantee the same PA each time. This can be stressful especially for tasks that are personal or intimate in nature.
Make sure you tell your agency which tasks might be sensitive for you. Explain you want the same people to do these whenever possible. If they do not do this, complain.
If you’re worried about approaching the agency, ask a family member, friend or advocate to do it for you.
Personal assistants are trained to undertake personal care, so they should be able to put you at ease. Always ask how they are going to do a task, especially if it’s something that makes you feel uncomfortable. And suggest an alternative method if it makes you feel more comfortable.