A North East charity has launched a new service to help disabled people struggling to find the consistent support they need, especially during COVID.

Disability North’s new Personal Assistant Register makes it easier than ever for people to manage their own care and support staff direct, rather than rely on traditional council-funded or private care agencies.

The register can also help those looking to employ their own care and support find a personal assistant, for instance, if their current employee has to self-isolate or has child care issues.

Vici Richardson, who heads up the new service, said, despite craving personalised care, many people still opted for an off-the-shelf package for fear about the responsibilities of becoming an employer.

“The problem is that becoming an employer involves hiring, managing, record-keeping and a whole host of other essential tasks. It is a lot to get your head around,” she said.

“Our Support Service removes stress. We help with all the necessary paperwork and support them to find the best person. We can even facilitate COVID-safe interviews via Zoom. We are always at the other end of the phone or computer if they have any questions.”

Chief executive Dr Victoria Armstrong said, as well as affecting the charity’s vital fund-raising activities, coronavirus had also underlined the need for a totally independent user-led support service to help people employ Personal Assistants to stay safely in their own homes.

“It’s something disabled people, local authorities and clinical commissioning groups have been very concerned about,” she said.

“No-one is better at choosing the care and support a disabled person needs better than the person themselves. Employing a personal assistant can be a great idea, especially during the current pandemic when the fewer different people who come into your home the better, to avoid coming into contact with the virus.

“You get to know each other better, build trust and get total control over what care you receive and when, making it more cost-effective in the long run.”

Disability North’s recruitment service and Personal Assistant Register can quickly advertise positions to potential employees on its database. More than 70 personal assistants are already on the register. They can also advertise further afield on job search websites.

Anyone currently working as personal assistant or as support staff in a day centre or other organisation, and who has hours available to offer to individual employers, can apply to join the register using a simple online form on the charity’s website.

For information visit Disability North’s website at http://www.disabilitynorth.org.uk/independent-living-support/pa-register/

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