Personal assistance provided within the family

We know from our service users, many disabled people choose to employ a family member to provide their personal assistance. Researchers in Sweden, who explored the relationships between disabled people and their PAs, found this has many advantages for both parties. Disabled people who took part in the study reported feeling this was a good opportunity to recognise their family members caring work, as often their PA had provided informal care previously. Equally, family PAs reported that the paid employment meant they could continue in their caring role, which they and their employer both desired. This type of arrangement for assistance also allowed disabled people and their families to retain their privacy and family life, and the close nature of the relationship permitted a high quality of assistance, which was preferable to non-family assistance.

The authors did identify one disadvantage expressed by participants wherein personal assistance provided by family members occurred because no other alternatives were available from their social care authorities. These individuals found family based personal assistance placed a burden on them and their families that forced dependence rather than enable personalisation of support and the independence this facilitates.

Overall, this study reminds us of the delicate balance between family life and the provision of support within families. Independence is based on choice and control, and while every family situation is unique and not all individuals will want family based personal assistance, it is worth considering in mutual agreement with family members.



Olin, E. & Dunér, A. (2019). Careful assistance? Personal assistance within the family as hybridization of modern welfare policy and traditional family care. Alter, European Journal of Disability Research, 497-510.