Executive Summary and Key findings by 4hRKVe0C


									             Personal Assistant Project

Personalisation: The Personal Assistant Perspective.

                  Final Evaluation
                   February 2012

                Claire Walton
       Engagement and Relationship Officer

             Produced in partnership with

                   Maxine Shakespeare
                Independent Living Officer
1. Executive Summary and Key findings ..................................................................... 3
2.   Introduction ............................................................................................................ 4
3.   Project Delivery ...................................................................................................... 5
4.   Lessons Learned...................................................................................................... 7
5.   Recommendations:................................................................................................. 8

                           Personalisation: The Personal Assistant Perspective

1. Executive Summary and Key findings


‘Personal Assistant’ (PA) is a term used in social care to describe the role where someone is employed
directly by the individual they are paid to support. The tasks people undertake in this role vary from
person to person. This is due to the variety of needs of their employers. Tasks can include supporting
the employer with cleaning, gardening, social activities and with personal care needs.

People using social care services who are using direct payments to organise their own care and
support are opting more to employ PAs to support them to live independently in their own home and
so the demand for this workforce is increasing, even for people who use their own funds to organise
this support.

The increase in Direct Payments has led local authorities to look at how to shape the social care
market to meet the needs of their ‘customers’. There is a move away from the reliance on contracts
with the local authority, and services need to appeal to people purchasing their own support. As a
result, local authorities are identifying ways to stimulate the market for PAs to meet the increasing
demand for this workforce.

National policy drivers and research:

The proposals for this project were developed, initially, following extensive research into other
projects on the PA workforce. This included a review of the findings of previous research by the West
Midlands Personal Assistant Project (conducted by Improvement and Efficiency West Midlands).
Their project, was created to “support the delivery of the Putting People First agenda by building the
capacity and quality of directly employed Personal Assistants in the West Midlands”. The
recommendations from this project include:

   Adoption and publication of a Direct Employment Toolkit
   Enhancing the availability and the affordability of training for PAs
   Increased take up of online marketplace and PA register

Further to this, the Department of Health recently produced ‘working for personalised care’ a
framework for supporting Personal Assistants working in adult social care’

The recommendations of this report include:

•   understanding the impact of the role;
•   understanding the unique and wide range of tasks undertaken by PAs;
•   understanding successful relationship building; and
•   research to address a lack of information in key areas.

Think Local Act Personal also released their paper: ‘Improving Direct Payment Delivery’ in October
2010 with a recommendation that:

‘Councils should (also) seek to simulate the market for Personal Assistants who offer a more
personalised model of support’.

Summary of Project Recommendations:

This project has been produced to contribute to Coventry City Council’s objectives to build
community capacity, to support the social care agenda and stimulate the PA market. This project also
sits with the Promoting Independence Framework within the council for which Maxine Shakespeare
(Independent Living Officer) is a lead within.

Building on current research and findings from other projects, Coventry and Warwickshire
Partnership for Care, developed a project to look at the training and support needs of PAs in
Coventry. This project offers recommendations following the key findings that:

Engagement from PAs using The Penderels Trust was very low as it relied on the employer passing on the
information to the PA.

PAs would benefit from having a single place they can go to, to access information, advice and
guidance as well as information on PA vacancies.

PAs wanted information about their employment rights and where to access support.

Not everyone understood the term ‘Personal Assistant’, those that walked by and visited the Personal
Assistant Information Event, did not pick up straight away what the event was about.

It became apparent during the project, that other projects and research were being conducted into
the needs of the PA market (Ipsos Mori, Personal Matters, and training provider network).

Some PAs had introductory training such as common induction standards but mostly trained on the

2. Introduction

With a drive to increase the number of people using direct payments to arrange their own care and
support, particularly in relation to directly employing a PA; there is a focus on the emerging PA
market and a requirement to stimulate this market to meet demand.

This project has gathered some intelligence that will help to understand the training and support
needs of people in this role and what is required to encourage more people to take up this role.

It was established following information requested from The Penderels Trust that there were over
700 PAs recorded as employed in Coventry at the time of the PA Market Repost produced as part of
this project in October 2011. The information also suggested that PAs were evenly located around
the Coventry area and so the location of any events associated with the project was decided to be
more beneficial in Central Coventry due to sufficient transport links.

This project was awarded a contribution of £8,800 from Skills for Care’s workforce Development
Fund - Innovation fund.

3. Project Delivery

Two platforms for gathering intelligence from PAs to contribute to national and local objectives were
established. The First platform was a ‘forum’ to facilitate discussion with PAs, the second stage was to
hold an event to offer information to PAs;

          3.1.    1st Stage- Personal Assistant Forums

The first stage of the project involved the development of Personal Assistant ‘forums’; a meeting held in a
central Coventry location with the aim of facilitating informal discussion about the role of the PA and the
support and development they feel they require in this role.

The forum was organised for 16th November 2011 at The Pod, 1a Lamb Street, Coventry. Leaflets were
sent via The Penderels Trust, advertising an earlier date for this forum but this was re-arranged due to
lack of interest for the previous date. A total of three PAs attended the forum, contact details were
collected for a further five.

Intelligence gathered from PAs in this format included:

-   PAs found it valuable to meet other PAs particularly to share ideas about activities available in
-   PAs wanted more information on what Direct Payments can be used for, particularly in relation to
    activities they can be used for.
-   PAs who attended the forum felt that they had good access to training, others contacted felt they
    required more training.
-   Employers were not confident about people approaching their employees to discuss their experience
    of the role particularly in relation to the training and support needs the PAs feel they need in this role.

Please see the forum evaluation for more information.

           3.2.   2nd Stage- Personal Assistant Information Event

To build on the findings of the PA forum, an event took place that offered information to PAs and their
employers about training and support available.

The Personal Assistant Information Event was organised for Wednesday 25th January 2012 at Coventry
Central Library. This was an all-day event consisting of two drop in sessions with stands, and a bookable
seminar. The following organisations exhibited at the event:

- The Penderels Trust
- Social Care Development Centre
- City College
- Henley College
- Skills for Care
- Plus information from Coventry Safeguarding Team.

Building on the lessons learned in the previous forum, the decision was made to publicly promote this
event, and hold it in a public, central location, with the aim of engaging more PAs by promoting the
information to local communities. Posters were distributed around Coventry in public venues such as
local supermarkets, post offices, GP surgeries, Community Centres, libraries, art galleries and sports

The date for the event was also included on payslips sent out by The Penderels Trust, and information
sent to the social work teams in Coventry, and external organisations that come into contact with direct
payment recipients. An article was published in the Coventry Evening Telegraph and the project was
promoted in December’s edition of Citivision.

Visitors were asked to complete a feedback form once they had visited the stands, and delegates at the
Employment Information Seminar were also asked to leave feedback about the seminar.

Twenty two people were recorded on the sign in sheet, none of these people stated that they were a PA
and we believe at least ten others had visited the exhibitors without signing in.

Analysis of the overall feedback from this event shows that the majority of the people that attended were
as a result of walking past the venue on the day and had shown interest in jobs in the care sector rather
than information specific to PAs.

                                        Event Attendance Analysis






      Personal Assistant (PA)   Interested in being a PA   Work in Social Care        Other

According to the feedback received at this event, the vast majority of the people that attended found the
information useful even if they were not PAs. The age group of the people that attended were mostly
between the ages of 30 and 65 and most had travelled between 1 and 5 miles to the venue.

PAs were also asked to feedback about their training needs of which three responded that they had
received at least one of the following:
    First aid training
    Working towards a Health and Social Care Diploma Level 2
    Safeguarding training.

The PAs who provided feedback also stated that they were interested in all of the following training
opportunities (please note; this was a very small sample size):

      Learning Disabilities
      Mental Health
      1st Aid
      Health and Social Care Diplomas Level 2 and 3
      Safeguarding
      Common Induction Standards
      End of Life
      Dementia Awareness

Additional comments from visitors:

          ‘I came to the workshop to find out information about the courses offered, very helpful.’

          ‘Thank you for holding this useful event’

ACAS Employment Information Seminar

The Seminar was delivered by ACAS offering information about the employment rights of Personal
Assistants, including the definition of ‘self-employment’, their right to have a contract and documentation
of working hours and legal requirements for sickness absence and taking leave.

Feedback from the seminar suggests that most people left with more awareness of where to go to get
information and advice on employment rights. A total of nine PAs attended this event and a further ten
people attended from organisations that come into contact with either the PAs or direct payment

PAs were asked whether there were any other subjects that they would like information on that they
could not find at the event. The majority of the feedback received stated that delegates felt that they did
not require information, others that selected ‘yes’ said they wanted to know more about PA training and
PA jobs, particularly where they can go to get more work as a PA.

           3.3.   Informing training providers about the PA market.

Information about the project was distributed to training providers in Coventry and Warwickshire via
attendance at Training Provider Network meetings. The information provided, included the difficulty PAs
have accessing NVQs previously due to commitment required to gain the qualification. The new QCF
framework was discussed and training providers advised that PAs were interested in accessing specific
units such as Dementia or End of Life and may not commit to the full QCF. The training providers that are
part of this network organised meetings with direct payment support organisations to discuss PA training
needs further, to look at the courses they provide that would be useful to be people in this role.

4. Lessons Learned

Direct communication to PAs has always been highlighted as a difficult area when conducting any
research around the role. Our primary avenue for contacting PAs for this project was via The Penderels
Trust, a direct payments support organisation contracted (at the time of this report) by Coventry City
Council. It was highlighted by this organisation that communications could only be sent via the employer
or a note could be added to the payslips.

Engagement from PAs using The Penderels Trust was very low as it relied on the employer passing on the
information to the PA. It was established that PAs and employers engaged better when they were spoken
to, on a one to one basis, where they could ask questions about the reasons behind the project.
Attendance at Coventry City Council’s Partnership Boards, Penderel’s Peer Support Groups and one to
one meetings helped facilitate these discussions.

Exhibiting at the Penderels Open Day produced the most interest from PAs and their employers in future
work from the project. Every PA that we came into contact with on this day left their contact details for
future involvement.

The second stage of the project, The Personal Assistant Information Event, was advertised publicly with
the hope of generating more interest from PAs. As you can see from the results, there were no visitors
recorded that had come to the venue as a result of this promotion, and in particular, no PAs. In contrast
the seminar also held on this day did generate interest from PAs, most of whom had seen information in
their payslips about the event. People that visited the event as they were passing by stated, they were
interested in careers in care and did not necessarily understand the PA role until it was put in this context.

The PAs that we did engage with stated that sometimes they required an incentive to come in their own
time, initially PAs did not see the benefits for them to participate in the project, another reason for
developing the information event, to offer something to PAs.

It became apparent during the project, that other projects and research were being conducted into the
needs of the PA market (Ipsos Mori, Personal Matters, and training provider network). As a result there
was a lot of communication going out to direct payment recipients and their PAs, careful consideration
was needed when sending out further promotion to ensure that this project was differentiated from
other projects.

According to the intelligence gathered during this report one PA stated that they already held a
qualification in Occupational Therapy and had come into the role to maintain social care experience and
the majority of other PAs had introductory training such as common induction standards but mostly
trained on the job. There is no evidence to suggest that PAs signed up to training as a result of this

5. Recommendations:

Following the lessons learned from the PA forum and Information event, this project makes the following

The findings from the Personal Assistant Information Event, demonstrated that there were a lot of people
interested in careers in care that had not come across the role of the PA. In order to stimulate this
market, local training and support needs to be identified and promoted to encourage more people into
this role as well as identifying avenues to promote this role.

Support both the employer and employee throughout the recruitment process. PAs who had
disagreements with their employers stated that this was down to the understanding of the employer

about their responsibilities as an employer. PAs need to know where to go to get information when they
have started their role, whether this is managing employment disputes or accessing training.

Employers and their PAs would benefit from knowledge of the availability of local training applicable to
people in this role, and information on funding available to support this, whether this is something they
budget for in their Direct Payment, or external funding that can be accessed to contribute to the costs of

When starting a project to gather intelligence from this workforce, build relationships with direct
payment recipients, support organisations, and advocacy organisations to encourage support for the
research and increase the chances of employers passing the information onto their employees.

Work with the direct payment support organisations to establish whether there is a clear route to contact
PAs. If not, Look at trends for successful recruitment of PAs from a particular avenue of promotion e.g.
using newspapers, adverts in shop windows, etc., and utilise this as a potential avenue to contact PAs or
potential PAs.

Intelligence gathered from this project suggests that PAs would benefit from having a single place they
can go to, to access information, advice and guidance as well as information on PA vacancies. The
recommendation is to create resources to facilitate this by first producing a leaflet containing this
information, and secondly a web page that will act as an interactive leaflet containing this information.

A PA register would facilitate the opportunity to promote PA vacancies and support the employer when
trying to recruit PAs.

To increase the engagement with this workforce, also, very simply, avoid terminology. Not everyone
understood the term ‘Personal Assistant’, those that walked by and visited the Personal Assistant
Information Event, did not pick up straight away what the event was about, but understood it when
relating it to a career in care.

Establish good working relationships with direct payments/ personalisation leads to keep up to date with
work streams that are relevant to this line of work. During this project I was kept up to date with any
developments around the PA workforce and thus minimised duplication and able to call on support with
promotion of this project.


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