We all need support. Image @downssideup
Creating a space for Personal Assistant Employers to share experiences, get support and unite their voices in order to help shape health and care Services.
Support and Change through Peer Support
My initial thoughts when asked to join the steering team for the Independent Living Group (ILG) were that I don’t know enough about being an Individual Employer to be able to offer up anything useful or insightful.
My daughter has a learning disability, and as a young teen we are still relatively new to Direct Payments. I found the whole process of finding a Personal Assistant and setting up the admin around her employment really daunting, and so I felt, and still do feel, a bit of a novice in this area. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even know what all the terminology and many anacronyms associated with this side of life mean!
But, it turns out that that was precisely the point.
Any great gathering is made up of people who bring different things to the table, where there is a seat for each of them in equal measure. After our first ILG Zoom meeting (tired round of applause for those!) it was apparent that not only did we all get on like a house on fire, but that we each had had a wealth of experience, a great many contacts and knowledge in different areas.
Just as the ILG Peer Support Forums and Social Media Groups have been set up with the aim of achieving, our new little Zoom family learnt so much from each other that afternoon. I discovered the varying ways that Direct Payments can be used flexibly depending on geographical location in the UK, about what I might reasonably request for my daughter. I felt excited to think that I could now work to make the funds fit around her needs, rather than pushing her to fit into the direct payments’ mould that has historically been used in our area.
On a Mission
The mission statement drawn up by the group sums it up concisely: Creating a space for Personal Assistant Employers to share experiences, get support and unite their voices in order to help shape health and care Services.
There is no limit on what this steering group can achieve, bringing our lived experiences together to be a collective voice for those who don’t have the time, energy or ability to represent the many types of employers in many arenas. In time this could include advisory boards and All Party Political Groups.
I think that those who were wiser and more experienced who were present at the online meeting may have remembered how overwhelming everything can seem in the beginning as they listened to my story. The newbies and the wise both have lessons to share. The strength of my inexperience is hopefully to get those tricky stumbling blocks, also experienced by others starting out on their journey, discussed and broken down.
So whatever stage of the Individual Employer journey you are at, whether you are a carer or recipient, employer or employee, your voice is invaluable in this peer support group. Our aim is to share and actively promote great examples of best practice and personalised support in action. The hope is that this can be fed back via your networks to your local authorities, so that they can continue to evolve, modernise and improve their offers whilst encouraging others to do the same by leading by example.
Your Voice Counts
This group is aiming to be one that pushes for change through support, sharing examples of what works and signposting the resources for others to move forward. This might include flexibility of direct payment use, smoothing the transition from children’s to adult services, liaising with social workers, drawing various carer organisations together, offering support for PAs or providing a roadmap for navigating social and health care or employment issues.
So do join our growing community. I for one, am feeling boosted by being a part of something so fresh and positive and hope that it will intimately the quality of life of those like my daughter.