Employing Personal Assistants during the Covid-19 pandemic: lessons for social care practice (PAEmp study)



Title: Employing Personal Assistants during the Covid-19 pandemic: lessons for social care practice (PAEmp study)


This study is funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research and carried out by researchers at King’s College London. The study started in November 2020 and will end on 31st March 2022.



Personal Assistants (PAs) or directly employed care workers are a substantial part of the social care workforce and help people to live the lives they want, amplifying degrees of choice and control. There is little research however, on employers of PAs.


Covid-19 has created multiple challenges for people using social care. While our recent PA Covid-19 study interviewed 41 PAs (see bottom of email for link to this report), the situation of people employing PAs during Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown has not been explored. This study will seek to understand the impact of Covid-19 on those who were receiving care and support from PAs prior to the pandemic, and what happened to them during the initial months of lockdown (or shielding) restrictions and the period after.


Aim of the study

We want to find out about the experiences of people employing their own Personal Assistants during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. This research will address important questions for social care practice now and in the future in case of new outbreaks of the virus or for another similar emergency.


The study

We will interview 70 individual employers (care users) and family members (if they are the employer because their relative cannot manage these arrangements), to learn from their experiences. We also want to speak to 10 staff members in brokerage agencies or care support organisations that support PA employers.


The interviews will be done by phone or by video call and will last 30-45 minutes. Participants will be offered a £20 shopping voucher to thank them for their time and help with the research. All information will remain confidential and anonymous and will not be shared with anyone outside of the research team at King’s College London.


Plan for our findings

We hope to examine and compare people’s experiences so that we can learn from them and use them to develop guidance for local councils, voluntary sector organisations, social care workers and for other people in this situation. We plan to talk about the main pandemic period and beyond (if the virus declines) and to produce reports that are useful.


Contact information

Monica Leverton – Research Associate in the NIHR Policy Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce

Email: monica.leverton@kcl.ac.uk

Telephone: 0207 848 1782


Previous studies on the impact of Covid-19 on Personal Assistants

The impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) on people who work as social care Personal Assistants – Research Portal, King’s College, London (kcl.ac.uk)

Roles, responsibilities and relationships: hearing the voices of Personal Assistants and Directly Employed Care workers https://www.kcl.ac.uk/scwru/res/roles/pas


Please get in touch if you would like more information about this research study on PA employers or to express interest in taking part in an interview.

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