What’s a Personal (Care) Assistant?

PA Pool Whats_A_PA_IllustrationThe role of a Personal (Care) Assistant or PA for short is very different from other social care jobs. It’s not the same a being a ‘carer’, #ItsNotJustCare, it’s about enabling someone to live their life as they choose and be as independent as possible.

As a PA you work directly with one or more individuals to assist them with various aspects of their daily life. This could mean supporting them in their own home, in the community, at work or for leisure pursuits. You can work live-in, which means you stay in the client’s home for the duration of your shift or live-out which entails going to clients’ homes for a few hours at a time. Working as a personal assistant (PA) can be a very rewarding career with lots of opportunities to learn different skills and experience new things. You could even work as a PA short term whilst studying, saving to buy a house or even as a stepping-stone towards another job in Social Care.

“I’ve met and worked for some incredible people through PA Pool, had some wonderful experiences, some extremely challenging ones, shared a lot of laughter and I learned so much over the years.” – AL

So, what qualifications do you need to become a PA? Qualifications, previous experience, and training are always useful, and some clients will require this if they have specialist needs. However, there are some clients who prefer someone who is completely new to the role, so there are also opportunities for PAs without any relevant qualifications or experience. Every client has different needs, so on-the-job training is usually given either prior to commencement of a job, or by shadowing an existing PA. There are however some essential personal qualities you need to be a PA. These are a caring and empathetic nature, you need to be honest and reliable, adaptable, be willing to listen and learn and have good communication skills. It’s also important that you and your client match on a personal level, this will ensure you can both build a happy and lasting working relationship.

“I’m working with a guy I met on your website in 2012, we’ve travelled round Asia for 2 months and done loads of European travel also. We’ve shared a great deal of our lives with each other and will be friends for life and it all started with PA Pool :-)” – alanoshea

Becoming a PA has many rewards, but it’s not a job you can take lightly, you need to be 100% committed to your work. As clients employ you directly, they will be totally reliant on the support you provide, there’s no automatic provision of back-up as with an agency, so it’s imperative you work the shifts you’ve agreed. If for any reason you are unable to turn up to work, then you will need to inform your client as soon as possible to ensure they can arrange alternative cover.

Benefits of becoming a Personal (Care) Assistant

  • Flexible working hours – you can choose shifts which suit you and your lifestyle
  • You can choose to work as a live-in or live-out PA
  • You can be employed as Self-employed or on a PAYE basis
  • Good rates of pay – you can earn between £100-£300 per day for live-in and £10-£20 per hour for live-out depending on the requirements of the client
  • Extra pay when working Bank holidays
  • You can work as a PA short term or long term or even just during holiday times (perfect opportunities for students looking for holiday or GAP year jobs)
  • Formal qualifications or experience are not always required
  • Training is usually provided on a job-by-job basis as every client has different needs
  • Job satisfaction – you’re enabling someone to be the best they can be and live a life they choose
  • For live-in PA’s accommodation is provided for the duration of your shift
  • Some clients do not require constant assistance so there’s time for yourself between tasks
  • The chance to learn new skills
  • Opportunities to travel such as accompanying clients on holiday
  • Opportunities to do new things
  • The chance to visit new places

Personal qualities for a Personal (Care) Assistant

  • Trustworthy
  • Reliable
  • Adaptable
  • Practical
  • Good timekeeper
  • Responsible
  • Able to use initiative
  • Have common sense
  • Eager and quick to learn
  • Good communication skills
  • Willingness to listen and take instructions
  • Patient
  • Empathetic
  • Observant
  • Conscientious
  • Caring
  • Respectful
  • Professional

Examples of tasks undertaken by a Personal (Care) Assistant

  • Washing and bathing
  • Toileting
  • Assistance dressing and undressing
  • Helping in and out of bed/wheelchair
  • Assistance to turn in bed
  • Attention to hair, nails etc.
  • Preparing drinks and cooking meals
  • Serving, cutting of food and help with feeding
  • Assistance with medication
  • Support with exercise
  • Help with administration
  • Assisting with shopping and other associated tasks
  • General domestic duties such as housework and laundry
  • Assistance when travelling using public transport or private vehicles
  • Driving client to and from work, to meetings, appointments, and social events
  • Escorting client to business and social meetings and events
  • Accompanying a client on holiday

Have you got what it takes to become a Personal (Care) Assistant? Are you ready to make a difference?

RUILSUK have produced this video which explains more about the role of a Personal (Care) Assistant: