This is part four of my series on Personal (care) Budgets. Parts one, two and three can be found here and it’s best to read those first!
What happens when I get the funds?
You can hold the funds yourself – as long as you can open a separate bank account. Online banking is great for this, as you can open one within minutes.
This does mean you will be responsible for payroll, and checking enough is left to cover holidays for your Personal Assistant, although there are DVD-ROMS that can help with this.
You will need to keep receipts for anything agreed, and show your Social Worker when they request them.
The other route is using a Payroll service. Often this is run by a charity or organisation linked to Social Services, and they’ll look after your funds, and pay your Personal Assistant.
You will still be responsible for the budget, and have to make sure you are requesting the right money, as any overpayments will be down to you. However they will provide the payslips, and make sure your PA gets paid, so it’s easier, and they can answer questions too.
My Support Plan has been agreed, now what?
If it’s agreed you can hire a Personal Assistant, there is usually another organisation that will step in at this point to help you with this. I found this very helpful, although I still did much of it myself.
Here were the next steps I took:
- Wrote a Job Description
- Advertised the Job
- Decided how many applicants I wanted to interview and contacted them
- Held the interviews
- Informed those who didn’t get the job, and offered the job to the one who did!
- Contacted references
- Put the contract together
- Sent off for a DBS (which replaced the CRB)
- Got Employers insurance
- Added my PA to my Motability Insurance
- Got a start date in place
The Job Description
This usually contains a line of information about yourself, perhaps your age and what your disability is, or what your specific issue is.
Some examples could be:
- I am a 39 year old man who has a chronic condition which affects my mobility and wellbeing. He is looking for a kind PA who can create a routine.
- A 50 year old lady with ME, who is a part-time wheelchair user, who would like to get out into the community more. She would like someone caring, and patient to help her.
- I am an 18 year old lady who cannot walk, or talk, and requires 24/hour support.
The next is listing the jobs you will expect them to do. It isn’t an exhaustive list, but it is helpful to give examples because I believe the first step to finding a good fit is making sure you’re on the same page. The PA I chose had carefully read this list, and pointed out where we had similar interests, and what she’d enjoy. It also clearly fitted around her own life, which gives you security they’re not going to leave you straight away.
One lady I interviewed asked beforehand whether I could make the hours full-time. This concerned me, because it made me feel she’d be still looking for a full time job. I still interviewed her, and didn’t really ‘click’ with her, but when I emailed her to say she hadn’t got the job, she responded to say she’d been offered a full time job elsewhere. So I was right to have had those concerns.
When it’s a part-time position, you need to know they’re happy with those hours, or have another opportunity they could fit around you.
Make sure to mention any pets you have. It’s no good having a PA who is allergic, dislikes or is scared of the pets you have.
Mention any hobbies, particularly if the PA will have to get involved. I made sure to write they would need to support me to go swimming, because again I knew I would want to go regularly, and if they hated swimming, or couldn’t swim, it wouldn’t be a good fit.
I know of someone else who hired a PA, and didn’t mention that her hobby was heavy metal concerts. The PA then refused to go – which meant she had to miss out.
Example of Job Description:
Job title: Usually ‘Personal Assistant (care). You can also state male/female here if your PA will be doing personal care and you have a preference.
Salary: the amount you will pay
Hours per week: Also state here if there is any flexibility so you don’t put anyone off who could do it if something slightly shifted. If it’s set in stone though, that’s fine!
Location: the town you live in, and maybe the first part of your post code. For safety reasons you don’t need to be more specific.
Description: This will be the line about you as discussed previously.
- To support me to access the community, e.g. shopping, visiting friends, medical appointments, weekly heavy metal concerts.
- You will need a full clean driving licence as you will be expected to drive my car.
- You may be required to assist with some light gardening.
- You will be required to do some household chores, e.g. laundry, bed changing, ironing and hoovering.
- You will need to push me in my manual wheelchair, and lift it in and out of the car.
- To support me with my personal care, including washing, dressing, etc.
- You can also state if you don’t allow smoking by adding: “The employer operates a no smoking policy.”
Finally, you don’t want anyone nit-picking if you ask them to do something you forgot to put on the list, so a good catch- all sentence is:
“The above is not an exhaustive list of duties and you may be requested to undertake other tasks as and when required commensurate with the role of a Personal Assistant (PA).”
Advertising your job
The organisation helping me automatically put the advert on the JobCentre website, and their own.
When applicants slowed, I also added the application to Gumtree, and Indeed – both free sites. You could also advertise it on Social Media sites, but please do be careful of your privacy, and ask a friend to post it rather than yourself.
How to pick the candidates?
Obviously there is no set rules here. The application form the organisation I worked with used was pretty short, and while you don’t expect applicants to have to write essays, you do need something to go on.
There were two questions that allowed them to expand, and they were ‘hobbies and interests’ and ‘Anything else you’d like to tell us’ type questions.
I tried to make sure they’d actually read my application and met the basic criteria. (I had people apply who couldn’t drive, and this was vital for me.) I also wanted someone that could help with paperwork, and so looked for a good level of spelling/grammar. Everyone makes typos, but I would expect someone to proof read the shortest application in the world!
I also looked for people whose hobbies matched my own. However, it’s really hard to tell what people are like on paper. They can write a great application form, but be awful in person, and of course vice versa.
The next part will cover the interview process, and inducting your new Personal Assistant.