Personal Assistants: how to be a personnel person

People who require social care to assist them with how they wish to live have had the options of employing their own personal assistants for many years. It is an option which can be liberating for many people, providing them with a level of independence and security other options do not.

There are two points that I think are important to understand when you are considering employing personal assistants;

The first point is that for a personal assistant to give someone full control of their own life, they have to be directly employed by the user, with the assistance of others if required. They cannot be self-employed or work for an agency or someone else since they cannot be fully directed as the user is not responsible for the consequences.

This does not mean you cannot hire someone who is self-employed or works for an agency, so long as you understand it is different to a personal assistant relationship, and so you will not have full control from a legal perspective.

The second point is that having a personal assistant is not for everyone. The idea that personal assistants are always superior to care workers is wrong, as it depends on what you require at that time, and how much control and responsibility you may wish to have. You can also have a personal assistant for some activities and a care worker for others.

I have employed personal assistants in one way or another for 25 years, since I was 18. I have probably made every mistake in the book and plenty more, enough for a second volume. I have had a vast range of positive and negative experiences that are too numerous to mention, although they have provided me with an excellent understanding of what is required to employ personal assistants

While there is often a focus on getting the paperwork right when you employ a personal assistant, I believe it is easier than people think, and this is something who can get a lot of assistance with. The issue that is a lot harder, which someone employing personal assistants can only do themselves, is the interpersonal skills required to manage staff on a day-to-day basis.

These are the skills needed to keep your personal assistant motivated and on track in performing the tasks you wish them to do how you want then done. The relationship between a personal assistant and the user can often be seen as a marriage in terms of the need to work together in a complex emotional space. I have often seen the management of personal assistant as ego management, understanding the benefits of praise and constructive criticism.

These interpersonal skills can be hard to learn, especially if you have no previous experience, and I have always felt that councils should require prospective employers of personal assistants to attend a training course on how to manage personal assistants. It has always seemed crazy to me that young people with high support needs have been provided ample amounts of cash to employ personal assistants without any training or support.

So in this context, I have used my experiences to produce a comprehensive guide on employing personal assistants called ‘Understand Assistance’. This guide breaks down and goes through all the tasks involved in employing a personal assistant and provides straight forward advice on how that task can be managed.

The philosophy of the guide is that there are no right or wrong answers, so long as you are aware the consequences of your actions, which the guide explains. The aim of the guide is to make the reader aware of issues and considerations that they may not have considered previously, including many small things like if and how a personal assistant could help them decorate their home.

I believe for just £15, this is a guide that anyone who is considering employing a personal assistant directly or indirectly should look at purchasing to enable and empower them for the complex tasks ahead even if they choose to make the same mistakes. The guide is an essential companion to assist people to find their unique style to managing their personal assistants.

Follow the link to find out more:

By Simon Stevens story

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