History of the PA Role
Self-directed Support legislation means that people now have the right to choose how they are assisted with their independent living needs and this can mean employing their own staff using local authority funding.
The Independent Living Movement has campaigned for many years for disabled people to have the right to control their own lives and the assistance needed to live those lives to the fullest. Personal assistance emerged from that campaign. Personal assistance is a fundamental necessity to enable people to live a full independent life. Independent living means having the same choices and control in every-day lives that non-disabled people take for granted. PAs are people who support their disabled employer to live an independent life.
In the summer of 1991 the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People’s (BCODP) Independent Living Committee elected to organise two national seminars on ‘independent living and personal assistance’ for disabled people. The twin aims of these events were to develop further the principles of ‘independent living’ for disabled people and to introduce newcomers to the disability rights movement to self-operated personal assistance schemes (BCODP, August 1992 p.5)
Many of the ideas which currently cluster together under the banner of ‘independent living’ have been part and parcel of the struggles and aspirations of individual disabled people, probably as long as disabled people have dreamed of independence. A central element of ‘independent living’ is personal assistance and, in particular, having direct access to the cash which gives freedom to hire and fire assistants who carry out duties determined by and under the direction of the disabled person themselves.
It is sometimes overlooked that, in the same way that the British disabled people’s movement has a long history of growth -since at least the 1890’s -so too has the development of ideas around the notion of ‘independent living’ and personal assistance. Certainly in Britain, as elsewhere in the world, these ideas came out of the experiences of many early pioneers, whose struggles were more directed to ‘living independently’ than to ‘independent living’ (Maggie Davis, BCODP, August 1992 p.15).
Check out the video links below for further information on independent support and SDS.