Employing a PA

A good recruitment process is key to finding the right person, so make sure you go through all the steps outlined here.

Steps For A Good Recruitment Process

1.     Create a Job Description, Person Specification and terms and conditions of employment

Write a clear list of what you want your PA to do, to help you determine the skills and experience you are looking for. Use your list to create a job description outlining all the tasks you will require from your PA.

Then think about the personal qualities you’re looking for in a PA; things like an understanding of your cultural and religious beliefs, someone who can drive, or shares your interests. If you’re a keen concert goer, for example, and a key part of the role is helping you go to them, someone who enjoys concerts, is happy about working evenings and doesn’t mind crowds will be important.

Use your list of the skills and personal qualities you’d like your PA to have to draw up a person specification.

Consider what you’ll do when your PA is sick or goes on holiday; and what happens when you go on holiday, or into hospital (i.e. do you still pay them), and build this into your terms and conditions of employment. If you’re not sure how to go about this, speak to your local Direct Payment support organisation or contact us to discuss it.

There are lots of easy-to-use job description and person specification templates available online and your local support organisation is also sure to have some you can use.

The PA toolkit produced by Skills for Care contains template job descriptions and person specifications, as well as detailed step by step information about employing a PA.

2.     Advertise the job

When you’ve decided on the type pf PA you are looking for, the hours you need them for, and the support you require, you can advertise for one.

There are lots of places you can advertise - websites, DP support services, Job Centre Plus, recruitment agencies, local newspapers, shops, churches and even cafes and libraries.  Your local support organisation can help with this.

Don’t forget to be clear about how people apply for the job – see the next step.

Our beneficiaries have had varying experiences of finding the right PA for them.

On recruitment, Geoff said, “When I first started, I put an ad on Gumtree. I got a lot of applicants, and went through quite a few assistants before I felt I’d got it right.”

“I drew up a job description and sent it out to applicants telling them to have a good look and make sure they were happy with it. Some people felt I was asking them to be a domestic slave but others really ‘got’ that I need a lot of support."

Mandy advises, " if you need help, use the Direct Payments service at your local council. They’ll help with Gum Tree for recruitment and may have regular PAs on their books who could be just right for you.”

3.     Get the applications in and draw up a short list

Decide on the level of information you want applicants to provide. It’s a good idea to ask them to submit a CV and a covering letter explaining why they are applying and how they meet the requirements set out in the person specification. This is also sometimes called a supporting statement.

You should also always ask them to provide recent references from people they have worked for in similar roles.

Read all the applications you receive carefully, to make sure they meet all your requirements and demonstrate the right skills and experience. You can then decide who you want to  interview and draw up your short list.

4.     Interview prospective PAs

You don’t have to interview applicants in your own home. You can use local meeting rooms and invite someone you trust to interview with you. If you find it too overwhelming, you can ask them to  interview people on your behalf.

The PA toolkit provides lots of information about the types of questions to ask during interview.

It also explains how to follow up with references and DBS checks (Disclosure and Barring service), to make sure the person you appoint has given you the correct information. Go on line or ask your local support organisation if you need help with this.

5.     Make it clear who you have chosen as your PA (and who you haven’t)

It’s good to let your appointed PA know, formally, that you’ve chosen them! It’s also good practice to let the people you haven’t chosen know – they can then move on and look for other roles.


Do I have to do my own recruitment?

If you feel that recruiting staff is too much to manage on your own, there are agencies who will support you to find a PA. Some will manage the entire process and employ them on your behalf.

Home Care Direct is just one of these organisations. Contact us for details of other agencies that can help, involving you at all stages.


What if I don’t want to be an employer?

If you’re not comfortable employing staff you might want to consider contracting a  self-employed PA. You can search for one using local registers in your area, such as P A Pool and You're The Boss.

Your local authority or DP support service can give you the details of a PA register in your area.  If they are unable to, please let us know and we will help you find it.

Remember, there is a big difference between employed and self employed staff.

If your PA is your employee, it will be your responsibility to pay their taxes.

The HMRC website provides a useful tool to help you determine whether a person is employed or self employed.

If your PA works regular hours at set times each week, HMRC will classify them as employed and you will be responsible for paying their employment Tax.


Personal Experience – Geoff’s Story

Geoff has both employed and self employed staff.

Read his story about how taking this approach has been successful in meeting his needs