The isolation of personal assistants (PAs) and a lack of training and support is leaving them at risk of abuse, according to a report from Skills for Care.
The research, part of a wider investigation into violence in adult social care, found PAs lacked the peer support of a team as well as more formal support including supervision, training and counselling.
Their close working relationship with their employer also meant professional boundaries could get blurred, leaving both sides more vulnerable to abuse, the report found.
“PAs face unique risks and challenges associated with their isolation and vulnerability, working often in people’s own homes.”
“Like their employer, PAs are also potentially vulnerable in one-to-one situations, lacking back-up if needed and without a witness if something happens.”
PAs were most likely to experience verbal abuse and fear of physical violence rather than physical assault, and most PAs saw verbal abuse as part of the job.
While PAs were less likely to be abused than care staff in other settings, the report found they often had no mechanism for recording and reporting incidences of abuse.
The report said local authorities should consider introducing a code of practice, guidelines for PAs and employers and a confidential advice and support helpline.
Project manager Liz Burtney said the exploratory report was commissioned because, despite PA’s becoming a sizeable and increasing part of the workforce, information about those working in the role was limited.
Numbers of PAs have increased significantly since the introduction of personal budgets and the expansion in the number of direct payments in recent years.