Cost of Living Support

Essex County Council - Provider Hub
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Market Context

Personal Assistants are directly employed or contracted by the individuals and families they support. ECC are therefore not in direct contact with all PAs and do not have oversight of the total number of Personal Assistants working in Essex. However through the COVID Vaccination Programme, ECC reached over 3000 PAs working with adults and children.

Following research with people with lived experience, we recognised that PAs sometimes feel isolated and are not consistently accessing the training they feel they need or employer supervision to ensure they are fully confident and able to deliver high quality support.

Individuals also reported challenges with recruiting suitable PAs and many told us that they subsequently rely on family and friends to fulfil the role.

The Direct Payment Support Service provider, funded by ECC, is developing a matching tool to support people to find PAs.

PAs can support people according to their individual needs and aspirations. Support may vary from personal care, respite, support to access the local community and pathways to employment and meaningful occupations. They can also support people across all cohorts and ages.

Personal Assistants are directly employed or contracted by the individuals and families they support. ECC are therefore not in direct contact with all PAs and do not have oversight of the total number of Personal Assistants working in Essex. However through the COVID Vaccination Programme, ECC reached over 3000 PAs working with adults and children.

Following research with people with lived experience, we recognised that PAs sometimes feel isolated and are not consistently accessing the training they feel they need or employer supervision to ensure they are fully confident and able to deliver high quality support.

Individuals also reported challenges with recruiting suitable PAs and many told us that they subsequently rely on family and friends to fulfil the role.

Direct Payment Support Service provider, funded by ECC, is developing a matching tool to support people to find PAs.

PAs can support people according to their individual needs and aspirations. Support may vary from personal care, respite, support to access the local community and pathways to employment and meaningful occupations. They can also support people across all cohorts and ages.

Essex ASC Market (ECC Funded/Using Direct Payments)
Spend £66 Million
No. Adults 2,746
Essex ASC Market - Sourcing
Average Rate per hour £12.93
Placements/Month unknown

The information shown in the table(s) above is correct as of 31.July 2022

ECC has been working with individuals in receipt of personal budgets to develop options to develop the PA and carer market,  children, families and adults are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit suitable PAs.

A new and enhanced Direct Payment Support Service (anticipated to launch 2023/2024) will include assistance around the recruitment and retention of PAs, assistance on training, supervising and managing PAs. ECC are already working with the existing Direct Payment Support Service to look at how we can make it easier for individuals to recruit and manage PAs.

The current COVID impact highlighted is:

ECC set up a dedicated mailbox for PAs to use to make enquiries, raise concerns, share experiences of working during the pandemic and to receive information and updates.

Feedback received via the mailbox suggests that the majority of PAs continued to work during the pandemic.

Some individuals employing PAs decided they wanted to reduce the risk of infection and not have their PAs come into their homes and instead decided to be supported outside of the home with matters such as shopping, taking exercise and collecting prescriptions.

Current market risks:

Individuals have told us that it often takes them two or three attempts to recruit suitable PAs. In the meantime this can mean that individuals are not supported in the ways that they need and want.

If appropriate employment contracts are not in place or employment practices are not adhered to employment issues and disputes can arise.

Many PAs are self-employed and so it is important that individuals managing personal budgets know how to enter into contracts with those who are self-employed and with other providers that they employ to meet their assessed needs.

The Direct Payment Support Service are available to provide reviews of employment contracts, insurance policies and other related matters.  

Our current areas of focus are:

To continue to listen and gain insight into the experiences of individuals currently managing personal budgets, their families, PAs and support providers and for this to inform our approaches

To continue to work with the current Direct Payment Support Service to look at how we can make it easier for individuals in receipt of direct payments to recruit and manage PAs

For the Direct Payment Support Service to develop a matching tool to support people to find PAs

To continue to redesign a new and enhanced Direct Payment Support Service that includes assistance around the recruitment and retention of PAs, assistance on training, supervising and managing PAs

To explore the use of digital and technology solutions that may support individuals and PAs in their roles

Last updated: 11/10/2022