I was very lucky to secure a job at a special school in Bury in 2007. And I also worked part time with disabled children who attended the school, as a Personal Assistant in Care (PA), employed by their families and paid by them through a direct payment (the families receive a personal budget which they can spend on health and care support as they feel appropriate, rather than relying on traditional services).
Children’s safety and enjoyment are always my priority and I work with children with differing needs physically and mentally. Respecting the needs of the child and working out what they really enjoy enables me to bond with the child and their parents. I still work as a PA on a regular basis for the same young lady I have known for the last 13 years. Trust and respect have grown between us and her parents to the point that I now will stay overnight to care for her. This takes time and lots of listening. You really have to get to know the people you are supporting, and their families, because being a PA is about supporting them to live the life they want, whatever that may mean to them.
And always have a plan B, C and D! My first role as a PA involved arriving at the swimming pool to find it closed, then trying a cafe play area which was also closed, so we ended up in a local supermarket cafe with a very vocal and hungry young girl. But I have very happy memories of that lunch. Working as a PA is certainly never dull. It always keeps you on your toes, and is so worthwhile and enjoyable.
Mary is working with us to raise awareness of the PA role, so more brilliant people like her choose to work with those who need care and support to live a good life.