Uniqueness of the PA Role

A Personal Assistant (PA) works directly with one or more individuals, to support them with various aspects of their daily life so that they can live in a way they choose. They are directed by the needs, wishes and interests of that person.

The PA is usually employed directly by the person who needs support and who manages and pays for this through a personal budget or with their own money.

The PA employer might also be the carer, parent or guardian of the person the PA supports.

These are very specific examples of where the PA role differs from other social care workers in Scotland. Anyone working for an agency, the Local Authority or NHS, is employed by that organisation. The contract of employment is between the organisation and their member of staff. For PAs, the contract of employment is between the individual employer and themselves. This means that the employer has the responsibility to manage the PA as well.

Being a PA means that the person responsible for your employment needs, such as training, support and supervision, could be the person that you support on a day to day basis. This means that the relationship between you and your employer is of central importance to the way in which you work.

Your employer might have very specific ways of doing things that are very personal to them. Your ability as a PA to respond to your employer’s needs in such a personal, individualistic way enables your employer to live their life in the way they would like to. This very personalised approach is also a strong feature of the PA role.

In practice you might be supporting people in a whole range of different ways. This might include support with personal care needs but could also involve support to access opportunities in the community, such as taking part in a local community group, attending college or classes, getting to work, meeting friends and family and managing household finances and correspondence. You might also be asked to do something you’ve not done before. The opportunity to focus directly on the needs and interests of an individual, and the diversity of the role, is what often attracts people to this type of work.

PAs are often ordinary people who see the chance to work with someone in their own home and community as a unique opportunity to work, live and learn with their employer in an unusual and unique way.

The fact you are paid directly by the person you are assisting is not how most people receive care and support. As a PA you will work when and how the employer requires assistance and be built around a strong and active partnership approach where the care, support and assistance planning is agreed and undertaken centred on the needs and wishes of your employer.

One of the other things that’s different about being a PA is it can be a very flexible role. There are usually no forms to fill in, no meetings to attend, and just acting and reacting to the immediate needs and wishes of the person you are supporting, and any opportunities that arise, is what is unique to this role.

Next steps

Find out more about the role of Personal Assistant and how it came about in the article below, ‘Description of the PA’.

Part of
Last Updated
02 February 2024
First Published
01 April 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.

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