Scots on direct payments turn away from employing personal assistants

A report from the Scottish regulator shows a growing proportion of people choose to purchase care services from providers.

Photo: E M Welch/Rex Features (posed by models)
Photo: E M Welch/Rex Features (posed by models)

An increasing proportion of people who receive direct payments in Scotland are choosing to purchase their care from a service provider rather than employ a personal assistant (PA), according to the latest research.

In 2012, approximately 39% of self-directed support payment packages included a personal assistant contract, continuing a downwards trend from 63% in 2007, the Scottish Social Services Council’s (SSSC) report found.

By contrast, 42% of packages involved a service provider, up from 28% in 2007.

However, the report warns against jumping to conclusions, pointing out that the data may be skewed by the fact that many people choose to employ more than one PA to deliver their care.

It adds that more people are receiving direct payments – 5,409 in 2012 compared to 2,291 in 2007 – suggesting the number of PAs is likely to have increased despite the growing proportion of people choosing to purchase services from providers.

There is no accurate data on the numbers of PAs in Scotland at present, according to the SSSC. However, it tentatively estimates that there were around 4,730 PAs employed in Scotland as of March 2012.

“A greater level of data about the number of PAs is needed before it will be possible to determine whether this emerging workforce is continuing to grow each year,” the report concludes.

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