Personal assistants need better local authority support

The three main adult social care bodies in England have called for a more structured approach to personalisation, including the introduction of minimum standards for personal assistants (PAs).

Personal assistants (PAs) employed by social care service users need better information and more learning and development opportunities to be provided by local authorities, according to the latest research.

A report from Skills for Care, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, and Learn to Care found that local authority partnerships with direct payment support organisations and user-led organisations are crucial in embedding personalisation.

As part of a two-pronged approach to creating a more structured system, councils should ensure all PAs have access to a range of support, including networks and forums, peer support, long-arm supervision and employment advice, the report recommended.

They should also make local registers of personal assistants available for use by individual employers and PAs, and develop minimum standards for PA registers to ensure quality and safety.

In 2011, according to Skills for Care, there were 178,000 individual employers creating 420,000 jobs carried out by 262,000 PAs, up 15% on the previous year. This means that people who work for individual employers account for 23% of the adult social care workforce.

An advice note for local authorities was published alongside the report, as well as case studies on good practice, and a list of support networks for PAs across the country.

The government last week scrapped its target for councils to move all service users in the community on to personal budgets by April 2013.

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