Employing your own personal assistant
So, you've been awarded funding from the Independent Living Fund to employ your own care staff. How do you go about it?
We have already assisted nearly a dozen people in the employment of their own personal assistants. This really does put you, the disabled person in control. You can decide who to employ, which hours they should work and what they should do. But control brings with it responsibilities and this is where GAD can help. We can help with:
Don't let this put you off. There is plenty of support to be had, both from GAD staff and from disabled people who are already employing their own staff and know the ropes. Even PAYE and National Insurance aren't half as difficult as you think they will be - there is a Simplified Deduction Scheme and we have found the local Tax and National Insurance offices really helpful. Of course, if you only employ personal assistants on a part-time basis and they earn less than £42.99 you won't have to bother about tax or national insurance.
We won't pretend that finding personal assistants is easy - these days there are more openings for young people and the job can be demanding. Generally the pay is not high and there is certainly no career structure. Disabled people across the country are encountering the same problems. Recently Hampshire CIL, who have done so much of the pioneering work in this area and who have produced two excellent source books, held a seminar for disabled people employing their own assistants. GAD representatives who attended found it extremely useful - we were all able to share ideas about recruitment, funding, emergency cover etc.
Hampshire are in the throes of setting up an employment agency and hope to recruit personal assistants from as far afield as Australia and America (so far the further GAD has gone has been Liverpool!) Often there are young people wanting the opportunity to experience life in England, working for 6 - 12 months. GAD hope to work closely with Hampshire CIL, and other organizations of disabled people, in this area.
GAD, "Strength In Unity",
GAD Newsletter Summer 1989