Skills for Care

Planning who to recruit, preparing to be a good employer and providing robust employment support can help with getting the most out of employing a personal assistant. However, there will also be times when things don’t go to plan or need to be improved.

Addressing when problems arise is an essential part of employing a personal assistant. It can help a personal assistant to develop and can highlight when an individual employer’s care and support needs have expanded or changed.   

Individual employers should familiarise themselves with the resources on this page and take a proactive approach to planning for sorting out problems. You’ll find guidance on absenteeism, as well as tips for noticing if things have gone wrong and how to address them.  

It is a good idea to have a plan for when your personal assistant is sick or on holiday: this is known as a contingency plan and should be part of your care plan if you have one. 

You could register with a personal assistant agency or employ a couple of personal assistants on a ‘work as and when needed’ contract, to ensure that you can still get the support that you need if your personal assistant is off sick unexpectedly or is absent. 

Ask your social care or health direct payments adviser, local support organisation or peer support network for the contact details of agencies in your area. Please note that agencies might charge a fee to find a personal assistant for you. 

Things like poor timekeeping or occasional rudeness can be dealt with by having a chat. Talk to your personal assistant if you are not happy – there may be a reason for what has happened that is easily sorted. 

When problems do not improve, or your personal assistant does something more serious, it is best to follow the correct legal procedure. You should have a disciplinary policy in place that outlines what will happen in this situation. 

It might seem obvious to you that they should lose their job, but if you do not follow the policy, you might find yourself doing something illegal. 

  • Give your personal assistant a copy of the disciplinary policy when you give them their contract, so that you both understand what will happen. The contract of employment and disciplinary policy should be separate documents.
    Download the disciplinary policy template.  

  • If you need advice, you could speak to someone with similar experiences to you, to identify what is acceptable in the workplace and what is poor practice. You could also speak to your social care or health direct payment advisor or local user led organisation. As part of your insurance policy, some companies may also offer advice. 

  • Consider external mediation or conciliation - ACAS provides free impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice and offers training to help resolve disputes More information. 


Want more information?

Good communication with your personal assistant can help you to avoid small situations getting worse and becoming bigger problems. Regular supervisions can help you to do this, learn more about supervisions.

It is also a good idea to have a grievance policy which outlines how your personal assistant can raise concerns, problems and complaints with you. You should give your personal assistant a copy of this policy with their employment contract. 

Download a grievance policy template


Want more information?

Abuse is a violation of a person’s human and civil rights by any other person. It may be a single or repeated act, physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, institutional or financial or an act of neglect or failure to act.

See some examples of what abuse may be: 

  • lack of personal care 

  • bills not being paid 

  • an overly critical or disrespectful personal assistant who may bully or undermine you, or say that you are worthless 

  • threatening you to get access to your money, or to get you to change your will 

  • being stopped from getting to a medical appointment 

  • being kept from your usual network of friends, family and community 

  • a personal assistant looking after you in a way that is convenient to them and not to you, especially if it makes you ill 

  • injuries, for example, a slap, being restrained or being given too much medication 

  • being involved in a sexual act that you do not agree to, for example, watching pornography. 

If you are being abused, you should tell someone immediately. This will depend on your local services, but should include contacting the police, trusted family/friends or your doctor. The Safeguarding Adults Team in your local Social Services department can also be helpful as well as your direct payment or personal health budget adviser, local support organisation or the organisation that provides any funding you receive 


Safeguarding: what does your personal assistant need to know? 

Those who have contact with vulnerable adults, have a duty to act, in a timely manner, on any concern or suspicion that an adult who is vulnerable is being abused or is at risk of being abused, neglected or exploited. This is also known as a safeguarding concern. 

Your personal assistant should:  

  • be aware of and understand local safeguarding procedures 

  • call the police and/or an ambulance in situations where the abuse of the adult indicates an urgent need for medical treatment, or where there is immediate risk of harm 

  • make a report to the police, and if a crime has been committed, ensure that action is taken to preserve evidence 

  • know what services are available and how to access help and advice for the vulnerable adult 

  • know how and where to make a referral  

  • keep a clear factual record of any concerns and action taken. 

Your direct payment or personal health budget adviser or local user led organisation can help you to find training about safeguarding.

Apply for funding 


Reporting hate crime 

Hate crimes and incidents come in many different forms. It can be because of hatred on the grounds of your race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or disability. Hate crime in any form is wrong. That is why it is important to report it, if hate crime happens to you or someone that you know. 

  • In an emergency call 999 or 112. 

  • If you cannot make voice calls, you can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone. You need to register your mobile phone number with emergency services to request help via text. Visit your local police service’s website for the latest information. 

Useful contacts 

  • Contact your local police force, either by telephone or by visiting your local police station. 

  • Local agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or Community Voluntary Services can also report an incident on your behalf and provide you with advice and support. 

  • Stop Hate UK provides confidential and independent hate crime reporting services in various areas of the UK, including a 24 hour helpline. 

  • Contact CrimeStoppers if you do not want to talk to the police or fill in the reporting forms, you can still report a hate crime by calling CrimeStoppers on 0800 555111 or via their website.  


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Download the Easy Read version of the Sorting out problems booklet.