Skills for Care revealed today that nearly half of service users on direct payments are hiring personal assistants without carrying out Criminal Records Bureau checks.
Researchers found 48% of people had employed care assistants they did not know without requesting CRB checks, while 46% failed to seek references.
The Employment aspects of direct payments is the first major study of direct payment recipients’ role as employers.
Registration ‘a good idea’
The report, based on more than 500 face-to-face interviews with direct payment recipients and responses from 486 personal assistants, coincides with news today that the General Social Care Council will consult on whether personal assistants should be registered.
The survey found the majority of employers thought an official list of registered workers to assist them in recruitment would be useful. Nine out of ten personal assistants polled felt registration was a good idea.
Although users found personal assistants generally more reliable, flexible and able to carry out more tasks than care workers commissioned by councils, 28% expressed concerns about the quality of applicants for personal assistants’ positions.
Two-thirds of employers believed their personal assistant had no relevant qualifications, while nearly half (44%) believed they had no experience in health and social care, whether paid or unpaid.
However, 42% of personal assistants said they possessed formal qualifications, with 23% holding NVQs of some kind. Although these respondents were not necessarily employed by the recipients interviewed, the report said this suggested employers were not always aware of the qualifications their personal assistants held.
One in ten suffer abuse
Despite fears that a move towards person-centred care may leave individuals more vulnerable, the survey showed that people moving to direct payments experienced less abuse. One in ten employers said they had suffered abuse from personal assistants, compared to 18% who had been mistreated by local authority-commissioned staff.
The report concluded that the “flexibility and individual control provided by the direct payments scheme has led to an increase in overall satisfaction”. Eighty nine per cent they were satisfied with direct payments, while just 38% of those who had previously had council-commissioned care expressed satisfaction with these arrangements.
Employers were not entirely happy with the operation of the scheme, however, with 40% reporting concerns. Eight per cent said they required more administrative support, while 5% said there was insufficient information about direct payments.
General Social Care Council