The Role of Information and Support Organisations

Independent Support Organisations are organisations which support people who employ their own Personal Assistant (PA).

They can also provide information to people considering becoming a PA employer, so that they can make an informed choice about their support.

They support PA employers with the responsibilities and requirements of their role, at all stages of the process including:

  • considering options around support
  • recruiting PAs
  • dealing with any problems that arise.

Many of them also offer advice and practical support with PA contracts, insurance, payroll and so on.

Setting up a Direct Payments and becoming a PA Employer can be daunting and, at times, complicated.  An Independent Support Organisation will help you to make the process as smooth as possible. They will offer their knowledge and experience of what is involved and aim to give you as much, or as little, help as you need.

When and how to get in touch with an Independent Support Organisation

Independent Support Organisations are independent from the council, although many will work alongside you and your social work team to help you organise your social care support. In some areas you need to be referred to an Independent Support Organisation by your social work team, in other areas you can contact your local Independent Support Organisation yourself.

Getting help from an Independent Support Organisation can help you as a PA employer feel more confident in your role and better able to manage any difficulties that arise. If you are thinking about employing Personal Assistants, we recommend you make contact with your local Independent Support Organisation as soon as possible. Find the details of your local organisation using the Find Help search tool.

What an Independent Support Organisation can help you with

Here are some examples of the support that might be available from an Independent Support Organisation:

  • Information about the responsibilities of being a PA employer
  • Pre-assessment support before meeting with a social worker
  • Help in navigating the journey to managing a Direct Payment and organising support
  • Support with recruitment and employment of PA(s)
  • Support with managing any difficulties you may have as a PA employer
  • Details of local support organisations and help in setting up support
  • Payroll services
  • Financial management
  • Training on becoming a PA employer
  • Peer support.

Many of these organisations are have staff and volunteers who have personal experience of care and support services. This means they understand the processes because they have been through it themselves, and can give you the help and advice you are looking for.

Advocacy services

As well as Independent Support Organisations, PA Employers may also get help from Advocacy services. Advocacy is a way to help people have a stronger voice and to have as much control as possible over their own lives.

You can search for an Advocacy Service in your area on the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance website.

Next steps

Further information about local Independent Support Organisations is available in the resources below.

Part of
Last Updated
11 June 2024
First Published
28 March 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.