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Personal Assistants and Personal Budgets: describing this emergent group and its relationship to the wider social care and health workforce


To achieve a better understanding of the Personal Assistant (PA) role to inform policymakers and the wider social care sector. Key aims are to: describe and document this emergent workforce, exploring their backgrounds and motivations, job content, terms and conditions, and experiences of their job and its relationship with the wider social care and health workforce; explore what mechanisms local authorities use to create and match supply with demand; assess the potential of this workforce to support people with personal health budgets and any implications for training and workforce development; identify barriers to working, including training and certification, vulnerability of the role, conflict with employers and dispute resolution, lack of peer support and mentoring, and other employment models.

Read more about the project in John Woolham's blog post for Research in Practice for Adults (27 January 2017).


2016 – 2017

Research team

John Woolham (PI), Jill Manthorpe, Kritika Samsi and Caroline Norrie (SCWRU)


NIHR Policy Research Programme


Two stage mixed methods design including interviews with a large sample of Personal Assistants and a diverse sample of key ‘stakeholders’, collecting both qualitative and quantitative data.


The data collection stage of this study was completed in 2017 and an initial analysis of quantitative data has been completed. Analysis of qualitative data is ongoing.

Outputs & Impact

Progress reports have been provided to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on the findings from the Personal Assistant interviews and emerging findings were presented to DHSC policymakers. Reports will be provided to local authorities and independent sector organisations. Further outputs based on detailed work with local authorities and PAs will be circulated via workforce bodies and social media. Presentations will be made to workforce stakeholder bodies such as Skills for Care. The study will provide evidence to guide the DHSC and other stakeholders to support this emergent segment of the social care workforce and explore the potential of PAs to take on an expanded role – for example, as employees of people with personal health budgets.

Norrie, C., Samsi, K., Woolham, J. & Manthorpe J. (2018) ‘Personal Assistants – the new care resource for older people?’ British Society of Gerontology Annual Conference, Manchester, 4-6 July.

Woolham, J (2017) What do we know about Social Care Personal Assistants? Research in Practice for Adults blog, 27 January.

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