Having a new health condition or impairment, or a change in an existing health condition may result in an increase in the support and assistance you require. You may choose for a wide range of reasons to fund this yourself although it is also likely you will approach your local authority to see what they can offer.
If their assessment agrees you require assistance then they may offer to provide you with a direct service, or provide you with a direct payment. A direct service is basically when they arrange for a care agency or other service to come in to assist you. This may be ideal for many people in many situations although the down side is when you wish to change anything, you need to involve the social worker, and this can take time and effort, involving someone who is unlikely to see their priorities in the same way as you.
Having a direct payment means you are paid money from the local authority to pay for the assistance you have been assessed as needing. You can use the direct payment to pay any care agency you choose yourself, having a customer to service provider relationship with them. This means you can make changes directly and in principal refuse to pay if you are unhappy with the service, although it may often not work out like that.
The biggest general criticism of care agencies is however much they will try their best, they can not guarantee you will see the same staff week in week out, although you will have somebody. Good assistance and support relies upon a good relationship between the ‘user’ and the person providing the assistance. Having new and different people all the time can be hard, primarily because you are always wasting time getting to know each other.
This downside may be unimportant if you only require assistance for a short period, or for a few hours a week, where the emotional investment is minimal, but if you require assistance indefinitely or for a large amount of hours a week, it is maybe time to think about employing your own personal assistants.
Having a personal assistant may be an automatic choose for some people, it is still a life changing decision, and not something that should be taken lightly. Having a successful PA support package can dramatically increase your quality of life opportunities and experiences. But it can take a lot of work to get right, and when a package goes wrong, it can cause much stress and distress.
It is not inappropriate to liken the relationship between employer and personal assistant to that of a marriage, because of the physical and emotional intimacy involved. While a successful marriage can last 60 or more years, a bad marriage can result in a messy and painful divorce. This is exactly the same as the relationship between a personal assistant and their employer.
But like a marriage, it is possible to develop skills like communication to keep the relationship on track. While the relationship may appear as a marriage in many respects, it is important to remember it is at its heart an economic relationship, the trade of money for work as directed by the employer. Being the employer means you are in control of what activities are performed, but it also means you have legal and moral responsibilities to your staff.
The choice to employ a personal assistant, as oppose to using a care agency, is only one you can make for yourself. Like everything worthwhile in life, things with the biggest risks come with the greatest rewards
Have we scared you off employing you own personal assistants? Week by Week, the Understand Assistance series will guide you towards having a successful experience.
Next time: How can a personal assistant support me?