Market Development

Being a Personal Assistant

Being a Personal Assistant is a professional relationship with your employer, who is also the person you will be supporting. There will be challenges, managing your job as well as supporting someone, perhaps physically and emotionally, but through having challenges there is also the potential for huge personal rewards in knowing that you are doing a job well and supporting an individual to develop or maintain their independence and / or dignity.

The pages below try to give you an understanding of what being a Personal Assistant is about, however ultimately each Personal Assistants role will be different, meeting the individual needs of the person they are supporting. When looking for employment as a Personal Assistant be sure to ask your potential employer about their unique circumstances, your responsibilities and what they will provide for you within your job.

The term Personal Assistant in the social care environment is often interchanged with other terms, for example Support Worker, Carer or enabler, however the definition of a Personal Assistant used on this site is

"a paid person providing support directly employed by the person or family member, often through Direct Payments, Self Directed Support or self funding" (Hampshire Personalisation Expert Panel, Presentation to PA Workshop July 2010).

In general a Personal Assistant is someone who can support the choices and independence of the individual who employs them through a flexible, adaptable and person centred approach.

The role of each Personal Assistant may differ, being dependent upon the support and assistance that is required by the individual who employs them. This may not be the provision of care in the traditional sense, although they may still be asked to provide domiciliary care or support services if that is what the employer requires.

A Personal Assistant will be recruited by the individual who employs them, sometimes with help from an independent agency, and employed under terms and conditions of employment decided by that individual. The relationship between the Personal Assistant and their employer is probably unique amongst employee - employer relationships due to the nature of the duties, and is therefore of critical importance.

Personal Assistants can be employed by anyone. Although widely used by people with physical disabilities, older people, people with learning disabilities and people with mental health impairments may all employ Personal Assistants.

linksLINKS that may help you find out more about being a Personal Assistant in Adult Social Care can be found here

Hampshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external sites or documents.


Since the Community Care (Direct Payments) Act 1996, Local Authority Social Services Departments have the legal duty to offer a Direct Payment, a direct cash payment to individuals instead of the community care services they have assessed those individuals as needing. The individual must use this DIrect Payment to secure services to meet their assessed requirements. Although a Direct Payment can be used to purchase any service assessed as being required, predominantly Direct Payments have been used to employ Personal Assistants.

In 2010 the government published its Vision for Adult Social Care that strengthened the previous government’s drive towards personalisation (access background on Hampshire County Council's approach to Personalisation here or you may wish to try the Personalisation e-learning course on this site which can be accessed here), promoting a growth in the number of people (both people who use services and their carers) with personal budgets and direct payments and a more diverse market of services, including the growing use of personal assistants.

Alongside this Government vision in 2010, the Department of Health and a range of other organisations published Think Local, Act Personal – Next Steps for Transforming Adult Social Care. This is a sector-wide partnership that highlights the need for an adequate supply of good quality personal assistant support and the removal of unnecessary rules and practices, whilst still ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place.

Skills for Care are developing a National Strategic Framework for Personal Assistants to focus on developing the Personal Assistant workforce. The framework has three broad aims, to support future growth of the PA workforce and their employers; to address challenges to the development of PA working; and to share best practice examples of personalised care provision by PAs and of support for employers.

The North East Association IEP recently commissioned Peter Fletcher Associates Ltd to develop a report titled 'The Invisible Workforce – Developing PAs in the Adult Social Care Workforce'. This highlighted (amongst other issues):

  • The important role that Personal Assistants already play in delivering personalised services in the social care workforce

  • The implications of self directed care becoming the norm, and the number of direct payments increasing.

  • The high level of need amongst the 10 million disabled people in Britain, and the large numbers who do not have choice and control in their daily lives (over 20%) and who experience difficulties in accessing good and services (over a third).

  • A view from the Department of Health, Skills for Care, and commentators such as Demos, that the number of Personal Assistant jobs will increase rapidly.

  • Changes in the Personal Assistant market in terms of both volume and level and type of need.

SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence) have produced a series if briefings on the implications of personalisation on various groups. They have developed one for Personal Assistants and although their definition is wider than the one used on this site, it may be useful for background information. Access At a Glance 14: Personalisation briefing: Implications for Personal Assistants.

linksLINKS that may help you find out more about the background to Personal Assistants in Adult Social Care can be found here

Hampshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external sites or documents.


Working in social care is challenging and rewarding. The social care sector needs people who are passionate about working with people. Whether you are looking for a career change, thinking of returning to the social care sector, or starting your working life from school or college, there is a huge range of work opportunities in social care.

For various reasons and stages in their lives, some people need support to develop and maintain their independence, dignity and control. Social care provides a whole range of services to support adults and older people.

You can make a difference by making a positive difference to people's lives by contributing to their health, happiness and well-being. As a Personal Assistant you will develop a one to one professional caring relationship with your employer. Through this you may gain an enormous sense of personal achievement from simply knowing that your job is helping people.

You may not need formal qualifications before beginning a career in social care. As a Personal Assistant your employer, the person you will be supporting and caring for, may be looking for other important attributes and qualities. There may be plenty of opportunities to acquire more skills, training and qualifications depending on how far you want to take you career.

Skills for Care have produced a guidance leaflet for those considering a career in social care and an interactive career pathway e-tool allows you to identify your particular social care interests against job 'levels' to find what roles there are and see what range of qualifications are needed for those roles it also includes care studies and contacts for more information.

Case studies

Brighton and Hove City Council have developed an e-learning course that includes case studies. Access the Brighton and Hove City Council e-learning course here

Think Local, Act Personal are a partnership of organisations who want to move forward the transformation of social care to ensure people get more choice and control. They provide case studies of personal experiences of the transformation of social care.

Think Local, Act Personal have also provided some case studies of people who have used Individual budgets, including some where Individual Budgets have been used to employ Personal Assistants. Access the Individual Budget stories here.

linksLINKS that may help you find out more about being a Personal Assistant in Adult Social Care can be found here

Hampshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external sites or documents.


You may discuss your responsibilities with your employer, who may well have them contained in your contract of employment. These are likely to be legally binding on you, providing they are not onerous or illegal.

However if you do not have such responsibilities explicitly set out for you then you should, at a minimum, meet the General Social Care Council code of practice for social care workers. These  are explained below, along with a further set or principles that you should consider meeting.

General Social Care Council (GSCC) Code of practice for social care workers

Individual social care workers should take personal responsibility for ensuring they adhere to the GSCC Code of Practice for Social Care Workers. These are a set of codes, developed by the GSCC, under a legal duty, that cover everyone working in the social care workforce setting out clear best practice guidelines that are relevant and important to everyone, regardless of whether they are about to join the GSCC register or not.

As a social care worker, you should:

- Protect the rights and promote the interests of service users and carers

- Strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of service users and carers

- Promote the independence of service users while protecting them as far as possible from danger or harm

- Respect the rights of service users whilst seeking to ensure that their behaviour does not harm themselves or other people

- Uphold public trust and confidence in social care services

- Be accountable for the quality of their work and take responsibility for maintaining and improving their knowledge and skills.

Common Core Principles to support self care

Skills for Care have developed a range of resources and tools to promote self care. Part of this work was the development of a set of ‘Common Core Principles to Support Self Care’. The principles aim to capture best practice in order to support service reform and promote choice,control, independence and participation of people who use services. You may wish to consider the principles as you work as a Personal Assistant. The seven principles are:

Principle 1 - Ensure individuals are able to make informed choices to manage their self care needs

Principle 2 - Communicate effectively to enable individuals to assess their needs, and develop and gain confidence to self care

Principle 3 - Support and enable individuals to access appropriate information to manage their self care needs

Principle 4 - Support and enable individuals to develop skills in self care

Principle 5 - Support and enable individuals to use technology to support self care

Principle 6 - Advise individuals how to access support networks and participate in the planning, development and evaluation of services

Principle 7 - Support and enable risk management and risk taking to maximise independence and choice.

linksLINKS that may help you find out more about being a Personal Assistant in Adult Social Care can be found here

Hampshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external sites or documents.