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Managing and developing your PA

 
This section explains what you need to do once your personal assistant starts work and how you manage them. 
You can download this section as a PDF | Word | Easy read
 
When your personal assistant starts, you should plan an induction to explain what you want them to do, how you want things to be done and introducing them to their workplace.
You may also want to talk about training and how you can address any gaps in their skills and knowledge.
Here are some tips to help you to plan an induction.
  • Make a list of things that you need to tell your new personal assistant on their first day. For example:
    • go through the contract of employment
    • explain your house rules (if you have any), for example, wearing slippers or indoor shoes, using a phone and eating arrangements
    • show them where things are kept
    • tell them when they can take breaks
    • explain any recording that they need to do, for example, notes about their shift or notes about the finances
    • explain what will happen on their next shift if it is different to what they may expect, for example, attending meetings, appointments or social activities.
  • Set aside time with your new personal assistant on their first day. After one month, have a supervision to talk about how they are finding work.
  • Think about how you can best keep control – you are the boss and your personal assistant should work with you and at your pace.
  • Arrange training before they start or before their first lone shift. Where you can afford to do so, have a well-established personal assistant on the rota with them and get them to shadow their work.
  • Keep a record of what your personal assistant does during their induction. If they feel that you are asking them to do something that is risky or that goes against what they have been trained to do, they have the right to say no.
Care Certificate
You may want your new (or existing) personal assistant(s) to complete the Care Certificate.
The Care Certificate is the standards that set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours that all care workers need. This will help them to learn about their job and understand the way that you want them to carry out their work.
Some of the standards might not be relevant to your personal assistant, but you can use the ones that are as part of their induction.
More information 
Care Certificate
These standards set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours that all care workers need. 
FAQs for personal assistants about doing the Care Certificate as part of induction (Skills for Care, 2018)
These FAQs answer some common questions about personal assistants doing the Care Certificate.
Care Certificate personal assistant induction workbook (Independent Lives, 2015)
This workbook is for personal assistants when they start work. It sets the Care Certificate standards in the context of the personal assistant role. You can use it as part of their induction. 

 

It is a good idea for you to formally meet with your personal assistant at set times, to talk about the job. This could be, for example, once a month during the probationary period and every three or six months afterwards.
This is called a supervision. Supervisions are a two-way discussion between you and your personal assistant, that:
  • help you to assess if your personal assistant is doing the job in the way that you want
  • give you the chance to give constructive feedback and to praise staff for their good work
  • give you time to address any problems and find better ways to do things, such as by doing training.
Getting support with supervision
If you want to do the supervisions yourself, you could do training to learn how to run them. Your local support organisation or learning provider could help you to find training, and you can apply for funding to pay for it.
Visit our website to find out more about funding.
You could also use an external service to carry out supervisions. Your social care or health direct payment adviser, local support organisation or the organisation that provides any funding that you receive may be able to help you to find this type of service.
You might think about this:
  • if being an employer is new to you and you want to get an understanding of supervision
  • to have an impartial person involved if things are going wrong
  • if someone is feeling manipulated or unsure.

 

Being a good employer is important and may mean that your personal assistant(s) will want to keep working for you for a long time.
Here are some tips to help you to be a good employer.
  • Work in line with the Manager Induction Standards – these standards will help you to be a good manager.
  • Value and respect your personal assistant(s) – this includes treating them fairly and rewarding them for doing a good job.
  • Be flexible - make sure that your personal assistant(s) do not have to make a choice between home and work.
  • Support your personal assistant(s) to learn and develop.
  • Imagine yourself in their position.
  • Have good communication.
  • Set clear boundaries.
The rest of this section explains these tips in more detail.
Work in line with the Manager Induction Standards
These standards set out what managers need to know and understand. They are designed to help you to recognise and develop your management skills, so that you can be a good employer.
If you are a new employer, they can help you to build confidence and understanding; for more experienced employers, they are a useful check and a way to review what you are already doing.
Download the standards.
Value and respect your personal assistant
If your personal assistant(s) are happy in their work and fairly treated, they are more likely to keep working with you. Here are some of the things that you can do.
  • Make sure that you are paying your personal assistant(s) at least the ‘going rate’. Ideally, people’s pay should also reflect their skills, qualifications and responsibilities.
  • You may choose to pay a higher rate to a personal assistant who does extra or more difficult tasks.
  • Pay your personal assistants correctly and on time.
  • Provide other benefits for working with you, for example, extra holidays, support for training and qualifications and flexible working.
Be flexible
You should try and be as flexible as you can with your personal assistant’s needs and preferences for working hours, so long as your needs are met. Make sure that your personal assistant does not feel the need to work longer hours than necessary.
Support your personal assistants to learn and develop
A good induction, regular supervisions and opportunities for training can help you to support and keep your personal assistant(s). Scroll down to find out more about learning and development.
Have good communication
Communication is about passing on information, developing understanding and building relationships. Crucially, it is more about listening than talking.
As part of their induction, you need to tell your personal assistant about:
  • your preferred methods of communication
  • if they need to make use of interpreters, equipment or visual aids
  • when to seek guidance from your family or other people that know you well.
You may need to think about training for your personal assistant(s) to develop the necessary communication skills. You should not employ a personal assistant unless you, and they, are confident that you can understand each other, or will be able to after training or instruction.
Where possible, try to make sure that small matters that may be causing problems are dealt with as early as possible. This will stop them escalating into a bigger problem.
Set clear boundaries
Your relationship with your personal assistant(s) may not be like more formal employer/employee relationships.
Sometimes, personal assistants can end up feeling more like friends than employees. This can be a good thing as it means that there is a bit more ‘give and take’ on both sides. But it can also mean that if things go wrong, for example, if your personal assistant lets you down or they feel exploited, the informality of the relationship may make it more difficult to deal with.
When you employ a personal assistant, think about where the boundaries in your relationship are. Think about how you will make this clear, and how you will deal with it if the boundaries are over-stepped. This is a good thing to talk about in induction and supervision.
Looking after your money
You should also set clear boundaries about looking after your money and savings. Here are some tips to help.
  • Ask your personal assistant to keep receipts when they do shopping for you.
  • Be clear and precise about where and how to pay your bills. Not everybody has dealt with household finances before.
  • It may be useful to keep a small sum available, for example £20, that your personal assistant can access if they need to buy any items or pay small bills, such as a window cleaner.
  • If you need your personal assistant to have access to your money, set up a separate bank account and only pay in the amount that you want them to access.
There are some things that you should not do, including:
  • never lend money to your personal assistant
  • never borrow money from your personal assistant
  • do not ask your personal assistant to use their money to shop for you
  • do not leave money around the house, other than that you want your personal assistant to access
  • do not reveal your bank PIN number to anybody that is not authorised
  • do not allow your personal assistant to become a signatory on your bank or building society account
  • never advance your personal assistant’s wages
  • never get involved with your personal assistant’s financial affairs
  • personal assistants should never become the person who signs financial documents on your behalf (appointee).

 

More information 
How to be a great autistic individual employer
This guide explains what people with autism and their families think is important to consider when employing a personal assistant. 
Let's talk about restraint (Disability Sheffield)
This leaflet explains more about restraint to support you to have conversations with your personal assistant(s) about it.

 

 

It is important that your personal assistant has the training that they need, to be able to work for you. This will make sure that they can be good at their job, work safely with you, and it will motivate them and develop their confidence.
If you have a care plan in place, you should think about what training your personal assistant needs to meet that plan. This should include any clinical responsibilities that they have.
You should talk about training during induction and supervision. You could record what they need to learn on a training needs form – you can download a sample form here.
Training topics might include:
  • moving and handling 
  • food hygiene
  • emergency first aid
  • communication skills
  • personal resilience
  • infection control.
Your personal assistant could also do more formal training where they gain a qualification.
Your social care or health direct payment adviser, local support organisation or the organisation that provides any funding you receive will be able to help you to find a suitable training course and learning provider.
Keep a record of any training that your personal assistant does, and ask for a copy of the certificate if they have one.
You can apply for funding to pay for training from Skills for Care. Find out more. 
Training for you, as an employer
You might also want to do some training to help you to be a better employer, particularly if you are new to employing staff.
Training topics might include:
  • recruitment and selection
  • being a good boss
  • employment law
  • managing and supervising
  • record keeping.
Your social care or health direct payment adviser, local authority or local support organisation may be able to help you find training in your local area.
Personal Health Budget holders should ask their Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) about available training.
You can apply for funding to pay for training from Skills for Care. Find out more. 
 
Individual employers can apply for money from Skills for Care to pay for training for you and/or your personal assistant(s).
The funding can cover the direct costs of training and qualifications, travel costs and the cost of hiring replacement support whilst your usual personal assistant(s) are attending training.
You can apply for money to pay for lots of different training and qualifications including:
  • moving and assistance
  • first aid
  • communication
  • dementia awareness
  • risk assessment
  • health and social care qualifications.
Find out more and download an application form.
 
An apprenticeship is a combination of on and off-the-job training and learning, that leads to nationally recognised qualifications. It is another way for your personal assistant to complete training.
They are open to people of all ages, and are not just for new staff – an experienced personal assistant that is already working for you can also do one. They usually last between one and two years.
There are different levels of apprenticeships, depending on the role and responsibilities of your personal assistant:
  • Adult care worker (equivalent to level 2)
  • Lead Adult Care Worker (level 3) 
  • Lead Practitioner in Adult Care (level 4)
  • Leader in Adult Care (level 5).
Find out more about apprenticeships.
At the end of the apprenticeship, the learner will complete an assessment. This is carried out by an independent assessor. Find an organisation to carry out this assessment here.
Funding for apprenticeships
Big organisations now pay a levy (a kind of tax) to cover the costs of apprenticeships.
As an individual employer, it is likely that you would only be asked to pay 5% of the cost of training (if started after 1 April 2019).
You can ask for money to cover this cost through Skills for Care’s individual employer fund.
The remaining 95% of the cost of the training will be paid by the Government. You should speak to your learning provider about arranging payments, accessing funding and whether you need to use the Apprenticeship Service (AS). Find out more about apprenticeship funding on the Government website.