I have been as part of the Independent Living Team within LCIL for eight years. Along with my colleagues, we support service users across the Lothians.
I’ve had a Personal Assistant (PA) to assist me at work since I joined LCiL. As a disabled person, having a PA to support me at work allows me to carry out my work efficiently. It’s for this reason I often call my PAs my ‘enablers’.
Our job as Independent Living Officers is varied in nature, as it covers a variety of topics, and pre-pandemic, was largely conducted on an outreach basis and we would conduct home visits to see many of our service users. Having a PA with me is vital for me with this part of my job as I can’t drive… trust me you wouldn’t want to see me behind the wheel!
We provide information and advice around all aspects of Self-Directed Support, from how to access a Self-Directed Support assessment to providing post-employment support once a PA has been recruited by someone and everything in between, including recruitment support and interviewing.
A PA would assist me with all of these aspects of my work. I would also supplement these activities with instructing my PA to carry out more mundane activities, for example to get me lunch. This often involving them going to a certain bakery on Easter Road on a fairly regular basis….. Enough said on that score.
Just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak my PA who had been with me for many years decided to leave for pastures new. This is often the way with PA employment, as I’m sure many can attest to. This would have been a massive upheaval under normal circumstances, but when you factor in a global pandemic to the mix this became unknown territory for me as a PA employer.
I have been working at home now along with all of my colleagues, not forgetting most of the rest of the world, for 18 months now and I’m yet to recruit a replacement PA to support me with work. As a result I’ve had to adapt my working methods, relying more on technology, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the extra pair of hands that a PA would provide.
As PA employers we often undergo trials and tribulations when it comes to the recruitment process, often feeling like we’re moving one step forward and two steps back.
I am only too aware how slow recruitment has been during this time for service users. The purpose of this post is not only to give you an insight into my job but also to let you know that as PA employers, you are not alone even though it feels like you are at times. Many of us are in the same boat facing the exact same difficulties on top of our already challenging daily lives.
As we move out into this post-pandemic world I am optimistic for myself and our service users that things will get better. LCIL and the Independent Living Team is here to support and advise in any way that we can.
As one of my PAs always used to say to me “Keep your chin up“