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The person you care for may want to employ a support worker (paid care worker) to help them live independently. These are called personal assistants.

They allow the person who is being cared for to decide who will support them, and how, rather than support being provided by an agency.

Personal assistants can help with a wide range of tasks including personal care, preparing meals, and taking part in activities.  They can support people at home, at work or when they are out and about.

If the person you care for has a personal assistant it is often a chance for you to take a break.

The person you care for would need to employ their own personal assistant directly so that they would become their employer. They could employ more than one personal assistant, for however many hours they chose.  

What do personal assistants do?

A personal assistant can help the person you care for with a wide range of tasks – really whatever they think would best support them. This could include:

  • personal care – such as getting dressed
  • making meals
  • taking medication
  • tidying up
  • help with work or education
  • using transport and getting about
  • going out, such as shopping or taking part in social activities. 

They can also offer friendship and companionship. Many people appreciate the consistency of having one to one support from someone they know well and get on with.   

The person you care for will have an assessment from their local council to work out exactly what sort of support they need. Their local council does this needs assessment even if they won’t help pay for the actual support provided.

Personal assistants can also be trained up to do specific health care tasks that might usually be done by a nurse. This needs to be a regular nursing task and should not replace nursing care if that is needed. For example, it could include help with feeding tubes.

Anyone can be a personal assistant and you don’t need to have a nursing or social care background. It is up to the person who is going to employ them to decide who the right person is, and what sort of tasks they need to be able to do, and to train them to do these tasks. The personal assistant may also have formal training.

How to employ a personal assistant

The person you care for will need to employ a personal assistant. This allows them a lot of choice and control over the support that they get. They will be responsible for employing, and paying, the personal assistant so they have to sort everything out, such as taxes, contracts and pensions. 

The person you care for may want to employ you, or a relative, to be their personal assistant. There are some rules about this so see if the person I am looking after gets a direct payment can they use this to employ a family member? on CarersUK for more information.

Toolkit for employing personal assistants

There is Skills for Care website toolkit to help you employ your own personal assistants. It includes downloads about: 

  • The benefits of employing a personal assistant
  • Recruiting a personal assistant
  • Before your personal assistant starts
  • Managing your personal assistant
  • Training and qualifications
  • Sorting out problems

The website also has links to useful organisations, plus a wide selection of templates for you to use. For example, it has a sample job description and person specification, a sample risk assessment, and an interview checklist and sample interview questions.

Other support

  • Find out about money matters on the Skills for Care website. This includes information about insurance, tax, wages and pensions.
  • Contact your local council to see how they can help. They will also be able to do an assessment to work out what support is needed, and they may also be able to help pay for a personal assistant.
  • Your local carers service may be able to help or put you in touch with other people who have employed a personal assistant. 
  • There will also be other local organisations that can help advertise locally for a personal assistant and support you during the process.
  • Our buying care guide includes information about employing a personal assistant. It also includes information about buying care from a care agency.

Paying for a personal assistant

The person you care for will probably pay for a personal assistant using money directly from their local council. This is where they will get a personal budget / direct payment / self-directed support so they can arrange their own care and support, rather than the local council arranging services for them.

If the person you care for lives in England they may also be able to get a personal health budget.  It is to support their health and well-being (rather than for social care).

Find out more

Skills for Care have a some videos on YouTube about personal assistants. Watch one of them here: