On 27 July 2011, the Department of Health published a document titled Working for personalised care: a framework for supporting personal assistants working in adult social care. The document provides a framework for supporting the development of a personal assistants workforce and support for their employers over the next five years and beyond. The framework uses best practice evidence and examples taken from a number of different local authorities in regard to gaining a better understanding of how personal assistants work and the type of support they require. The document looks at the following matters:  

  • recruitment and retention of personal assistants;
  • learning and development;
  • supporting personal assistants and their employers; and
  • enabling risk management.  

The framework also looks at and attempts to provide a wider understanding of personal assistant working and how to help the employers of personal assistants to better understand their needs by "determining the qualities they want from employees, in order to build strong and positive working relationships".

It is noted that at present there are presently few qualifications for personal assistants and it is suggested that this leads to personal assistants moving on to other work. For this reason, it is felt to be important for personal assistants to now be supported to undertake training and for local authorities to encourage creative and innovative community based learning and development solutions which will assist in their learning and development.

The framework shows differences in support for both clients and personal assistants in different areas of the country. It is notable that seven out of ten personal assistants reported their current employer was the first to employ them directly, showing what a new concept this form of support is. The framework states that only two in five have relevant qualifications at present.

The push now to try and train, support and retain the use of personal assistants has come about due to the requirement of the Government for more social care clients to have an opportunity to receive a personal budget by 2013. A decision as to what any training should require and who should be responsible for payment for such training will need to be made. In times of increasing financial hardship these may be difficult questions to answer by ADASS and others.

A link to the framework paper is available here