Deciding what you need
You will need to make your mind up what your personal assistance requirements are. Consider what personal assistance you require throughout the day and/or night and how much time you will need to spend on each task. This will help you decide on the work schedule that will suit you best. You need to come to a decision about how many Personal Assistants (one may be sufficient) you need and if they will work on a part-time or full-time basis. When you decide what sort of job you are offering you can begin looking for the most appropriate staff for you.
Paying Personal Assistants
It is important to keep in mind how much money you receive from the Trust and decide if you want to add to your budget. There are a number of factors to consider before deciding on an hourly rate. Contact The Centre for Independent Living for assistance with budgeting.
Finding Personal Assistants
You could ask your family, friends, neighbours or ‘Care Assistants’ who have worked with you in the past. You may know people in your area who are willing to spread the word that you are looking for suitable people to fill the post.
Local newspapers or publications
You may want to advertise in the ‘Situations Vacant’ section. There will be a charge to place your advertisement, usually per four words (known as a line). Try to keep the advertisement as to the point as possible. It is wise to get a price from the newspaper office before you advertise. There are several ways that potential staff can respond to your advertisement including a telephone number, email, a third party contact or a PO Box. It should be remembered that some potential applicants could be put off by the prospect of applying to a PO Box. For reasons of privacy, you may wish to withhold your full name and home address when placing job advertisements.
Local Job Centres
Any local Job Centre will place your advert on display racks free of charge. You can telephone, email or post your advertisement or you may visit the Job Centre yourself. You can ask the Job Centre to put potential applicants in touch with you without your own telephone number being included on the advertisement. It is important to be certain that the Job Centre fully understands the nature of the job that you are offering.
You may place cards in your local shop, post office, supermarket or community centre. Placing an advertisement on notice boards in Further Education Colleges and Universities where social services/community care courses are taught may attract suitable people.
The internet can be a very effective way of reaching a broad range of candidates. Free to use websites such at the Government Website Job Centre On-Line or on the community networking site “Gumtree” are available. Should you need help and advice on uploading your advertisement, contact your local Centre for Independent Living. Many service users have found social media a great way to source suitable candidates.
You may make a contract with an agency that has staff who meet your needs. You will need to ensure that you have enough money from your Direct Payments to pay the agency rate as their charges are usually higher than what you would receive as a Direct Payment.
Privacy and security
It is advisable to bear in mind your own privacy and security. You may prefer not to use your home address when advertising or interviewing staff. The Centre for Independent Living – NI can help you to find an appropriate venue to meet potential staff.
Writing the advertisement
Write a short message that attracts attention and gives accurate information about the job including:
- The nature of the post
- The number of hours to be worked daily or weekly
- The gross rate of pay
- The general area where they will be based (for example – North Belfast)
- Who to contact for further information (for example – John on 07912345678)
To keep your identity unknown at this stage, you should not put your full name or address on the advertisement. When possible, use a mobile number for potential applicants to contact you for more information and an application pack.
Avoid terms like ‘Carer’ when naming the job. Try to promote the job positively by titling the post ‘Personal Assistant’ or ‘Support Worker’.
Dealing with responses from applicants
When applicants start to respond you will need to select whom you will interview. To allow you to decide, you will need more information about each candidate. This can be obtained by sending them an Application Form with a Job Description and Personal Specification (a sample Job Description and Personal Specification is available from the Centre for Independent Living NI and your local Independent Living Adviser can assist you in adapting it to meet your needs and circumstances). By enclosing a letter you can inform the applicant that if selected for interview they will be contacted by a specific date, otherwise they should assume their application has been unsuccessful. A sample letter is available from your local Centre for Independent Living.
To remain anonymous, you may wish to use a P.O. Box or your local Centre for Independent Living (with prior arrangement) as the return address.
After you have selected the applicants you would like to interview, contact them by letter or phone to arrange where and when to meet. As mentioned earlier, your local Centre for Independent Living can help you identify a suitable venue.
Examples of questions you may wish to ask during interview include:
- Have you done this sort of work before?
- Could you tell me more about your interests?
- Why did you apply for this post?
- What would you like to be doing in 3 years time?
- Is your time available for work flexible?
- Would you be able to work at short notice?
- How much notice would you need?
- Are you willing to work unsociable hours?
It is a good idea to score you candidates answers. For example – 10 = Excellent / 1 = Poor and comment on why you awarded each score. Remember to use these notes to enable you to decide on the most suitable applicants.
You should make it clear to applicants that this is a formal employment arrangement and you will be informing HM Revenue and Customs, if appropriate, and will need to know his or her National Insurance number.
Collecting References from Referees
Although you can collect references before meeting your selected applicants, to avoid unnecessary paperwork, you may wish wait until after you have interviewed. Once you have short-listed the candidates to those you are most likely to appoint, send off for references from the referees they have noted on their application form.
Appointing Your Selected Staff
Once you have reviewed the application forms, your interview notes and references, you are ready to make your final decision as to who you wish to appoint to the post/s. You can contact the candidate/s by phone or letter with your decision. It is good practice to write to the other candidates to let them know they have been put on a reserve list or were unsuccessful. If you were happy with more than one of you applicants but only have one job to offer, you may wish to ask them if they would like to go on a reserve list to provide cover during holidays, sick leave, maternity or paternity leave.
Access NI Checks
If you are using Direct Payments – many Health and Social Care Trusts will insist on carrying out Access NI (Police/Security) Checks on the staff you wish to appoint. You should contact the Key Worker who set up the Direct Payment to get the process started before agreeing a start date with your worker. If your local Trust does not insist on a security check, you may still wish to request one is carried out to be sure you are selecting the most appropriate person for the job. You should keep in mind who and what the worker/s will have access to before deciding if a check is necessary.