Employing a personal assistant

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.

Employing a personal assistant allows the person who is being cared for to decide who will support them, and how, rather than support being provided by an agency.

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

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. They can support people at home, at work or when they are out and about.This could include:

  • Personal care – such as getting dressed.
  • Making meals.
  • Taking medication.
  • Tidying up.
  • Helping 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 can ask for a carer's assessment from their local council to work out exactly what sort of support they need. Their local council carries out this assessment even if they won’t help pay for the actual support provided.

Personal assistants can also be trained to do specific health care tasks that might usually be done by a nurse. 

You don’t need to have a nursing or social care background to be a personal assistant. 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 would need to employ their own personal assistant directly so that they would become their employer. This means they:

  • Are responsible for their personal assistant's pay, taxes, contract and pension. 
  • Will need to carry out and pay for an up-to-date criminal record check. This is known as a DBS check in England and Wales, a Disclosure Scotland check in Scotland and Access NI in Northern Ireland.
  • Will need to arrange and pay for any training and supervision that the personal assistant needs.
  • Will need to pay for any equipment and disposable items they need such as gloves and aprons for the delivery of personal care.

They could employ more than one personal assistant, for however many hours they chose.  

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 Carers UK for more information.

Toolkits for employing personal assistants

The Skills for Care website has a 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.

Skills for Care also has some videos on YouTube about personal assistants. 

In Scotland, see the Scottish Government's Personal Assistants Employers Toolkit.

Other support

  • 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 carer service may be able to help or put you in touch with other people who have employed a personal assistant.