Alison Simmons works locally in a care role, as a PA and team leader for a locally-based customer. Alison met with our Marketing Officer Sophie to tell us about her experience.
How did you become/first find out about being a Personal Assistant?
I actually started in this role by accident, it’s the only care role I’ve ever done. She was a friend’s sister, who I’d known since I was 15. We were worried about her losing funding and I started doing the accounts and payroll each month. My role developed after they lost other carers who were friends and family and she was nervous of new people.
The other PAs are from agencies and I’m their team leader.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Being an advocate for the person I care for. Making sure she has everything she needs. Making sure that other people treat her with respect, but also use a bit of humour when they speak to her to make sure things aren’t mundane for her.
We take her through the steps of everything we do for her – whether it’s brushing her teeth or washing her, whatever it is. She is unable to communicate, so it’s making sure that people remember that she’s still her inside.
What’s the most challenging bit of the job?
I act as employer for her partner, so I would say the most challenging part of my role is managing all the different relationships and personalities as team leader.
I’ve known the person I care for and her partner for a long time which helps me manage this. I use a message group to keep in touch with the other PAs and make sure everything we need to communicate is covered. We work well as a team.
What training have you had for your role?
I didn’t have any training until last year. Katy Hankins at Independent Lives advised we had the funding available for training and encouraged us to use that. I’ve had Independent Lives training on Manual Handling, Health and Safety and Medication 1 & 2.
We’re at different levels of training as a team of PAs, but it’s important to ensure that training is kept up to date.
What was the best part of your training and why?
The friendliness at my Independent Lives training – I found it fun and interesting. I liked the small size of the group. It was very practical, and the balance between written materials and practical application was good.
Everyone getting a go in the hoist, as well as everyone having a go at being rolled in the manual handling, gives you the other perspective and makes you appreciate the vulnerability felt in those positions.
In Medication 1 & 2 it was helpful to have explained why you should dispose of what you’re using correctly – it helps you think about the consequences.
I’ve had City and Guilds training in the past and I felt that Independent Lives’ training was on par with that.
Did you feel more confident performing your role after you had training?
I had a greater knowledge and awareness of what I was doing, as well as a greater awareness of what my co-workers are doing. It gave me ability to see if my co-workers were doing things according to how we’d been shown to do them in the training.
Why do you think it’s important for PAs to have training?
I think it’s important for PAs to have training to make sure that they are following the correct procedures to protect their clients.
To any PAs reading this who are thinking about training, I’d recommend getting trained. It will reassure you and your clients that you know the practical and legal requirements for your role.
I also think treating clients with care and respect is important – developing an awareness of how you’d feel in their shoes. Training makes you think about this as a PA and it can make a lot of different to the person you care for.
To find out more about PA training visit the Independent Lives website: http://www.independentlives.org/training
To find out more about funding for PA training, visit the Skills for Care website: http://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Funding/