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Army of personal assistants in care needed amid regional shortage

17 February 2021

A resident and personal assistant.

A special recruitment event is to be held on 25 February 2021 to encourage people to support the most vulnerable in the borough by becoming personal assistants (PAs) in adult care.

PAs in adult care support older people and those with disabilities in a variety of ways, including by helping them around the house and helping them get out and about, by taking them on walks and other activities.

There are 700 adult care PA vacancies across Greater Manchester

But with around 700 vacancies across the city region, and many people facing redundancy and furlough, The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership is encouraging people to take a look at caring as a career.

Rather than being an employee of a care agency or a care home, PAs in care are employed directly by the disabled person themselves or their families and work in their home. The disabled person uses what's known as a 'direct payment' for their health or care support to employ their PA, so they can recruit staff based on the right fit for them.

Across Greater Manchester, a total workforce of around 8,000 PAs in care is needed to support those who need help, but many families struggle to find PAs, with almost half of those using direct payments to fund their PA support reporting that recruitment is an issue for them.

Now, Rochdale Borough Council has joined forces with the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership to create an online session to give people an overview of what it's like to be a PA in adult care, how to get started in this career, the qualities that are needed and what kind of difference it makes to people's lives.

The session will feature speakers from the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, a 1st-hand account from somebody whose family benefitted from PA support and HR and jobs and skills representatives from Rochdale Borough Council.

'PAs in adult care are more important than ever'

Councillor Iftikhar Ahmed, cabinet member for social care and ageing well, said: "Being an adult care PA isn't simply a job. Adult care PAs provide vital support to the people they care for and their families, often forming a close bond with them. They are often a really key figure in their lives.

"This pandemic has really shone a light on unsung heroes, like people working in care, and the job is now more important than ever. I would urge everybody to take a look at the opportunities on offer in this sector, as there are so many people out there who are waiting for somebody to come and help them live their life to the full.

"You don't need any caring background to get involved and people who may have worked in other sectors, like the hospitality and leisure industry, could find they have really valuable transferable skills that would make them well suited to this kind of career. I'd urge anyone who is curious to register for this free event and find out more."

One resident who knows first-hand how valuable adult care PA support can be is Helen Walton from Bamford.

Helen employed PAs, Dave Jones and Andy Wilson, to help look after her son Nat, aged 26, who is non-verbal, has profound autism, severe learning disability and a number of other conditions. Nat's conditions have presented serious challenges for him and his family over many years.

She said: "I have employed Nat's PAs for around 7 years. It is fair to say that when they first came to work with Nat, he found many everyday things very difficult. Leaving the house was an ordeal for him, so visits to the supermarket, dentist, hairdresser, doctor and others were pretty much impossible. He was an incredibly anxious, destructive and aggressive young man, his family bore the brunt of this. He was at risk of having to move to residential accommodation far away from home, which was not what we wanted for him.

"The consistent, steady, patient approach provided by his PAs, has over the years, helped Nat to become the happy, settled young man he is today. His transformation is amazing and he has recently moved into supported living accommodation, a huge move, which he has managed extremely well, something we could not have imagined a few years ago. The PAs have helped to improve Nat's ability to cope with life enormously. He now enjoys a quality of life and variety of experience that we would never have envisaged. I will never be able to thank them enough for the transformation they have brought to Nat and to our wider family.

The online information session will take place on 25 February 2021 at 10am

Zoe Porter, personalisation lead at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: "Disabled people across Greater Manchester are looking for people to help keep them happy, healthy and safe. We need more brilliant people to work with those who need care and support to live a good life. The role is unique, diverse, worthwhile and flexible. Anyone who values being caring and making a difference should consider a new career as a Personal Assistant in Care and find out more."

The online event is taking place on Thursday, 25 February 2021 at 10am through Zoom.