A guide for Personal Assistants

What is a Personal Assistant?

A Personal Assistant (PA) can support an older or disabled person to give them more independence and help them to live their life more fully.

Personal Assistants need to be good listeners, with a willingness to learn and respond. The job can be very flexible, offering part or full-time work on different days and at different times.

Some Personal Assistants work part-time alongside another job and others may have several clients they support. The role is also suitable for someone only wanting to work a few hours a week.

Due to coronavirus, Personal Assistants should take infection control precautions and/or training.

What does a Personal Assistant do?

Duties can vary widely and depend on your client. They can be different every day, according to what type of support the person needs, and when. This may include:

  • cooking, cleaning and ironing
  • looking after children and pets
  • shopping, socialising, going on holiday or studying
  • driving, gardening or helping with paperwork or the computer
  • personal care, like washing and dressing, or mobility
  • assisting with healthcare tasks (after training)
  • liaising with other professionals and family members who are involved in supporting the client

How to find work as a Personal Assistant in East Sussex

There are a number of agencies for Personal Assistants.

Agencies used by East Sussex County Council

These services are commissioned by the council:

1) People Plus

You can contact People Plus directly on:

  • Phone: 01323 414 674
  • Write to: Ivy House, Courtlands Road, Eastbourne, BN21 4QT

2) Vibrance

You can register as a personal assistant on their Link me up noticeboard to let people know you are available. They also advertise on the Indeed website or social media if no one is suitable on their PA register.

Contact the coordinator for further information:

  • Phone: 01273 025 687
  • Write to: The Mallings Business Centre, 112 The Mallings, Lewes, BN7 2RG

Continuing health needs

This agency is used by health services for people with complex care needs who need personal assistants, so most will be in an employed role:

The People’s Choice Sussex Ltd

Offers domiciliary care and support as a brokerage for Personal Health Budgets.

  • Phone: 01273 615 088
  • Mobile: 07805 541 448

Personal assistants can find jobs on their website or on the Friday ad website, Facebook and Indeed.

East Sussex County Council accreditation scheme

Support with Confidence is a scheme in East Sussex that offers personal assistants the option of being accredited by the council. Once accredited, you’ll be listed on a directory of vetted and approved service providers. Benefits of joining include: free training, support to become self-employed, enhanced DBS, advertising your services to the public and to our own staff, networking opportunities, plus added peace of mind for clients.

Are Personal Assistants employed or self-employed?

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) decide whether a Personal Assistant (PA) is self-employed or employed based on the type of work the PA does. It is not as simple as you and the person you work for deciding what kind of employment arrangement you would like.

This is important because if a PA working as self-employed is later found to be employed then their client can become liable for all the tax that should have been paid.

The law says that it is the nature of the arrangement between the worker and the person paying them which determines whether the work is being done on an employed or self-employed basis.

HMRC says that a PA is almost always ‘employed’ if they:

  • have to do the work themselves, meaning it would not be acceptable for them to send someone else
  • work for only one person
  • are told how, when and where they will do their work
  • have to work a set amount of hours at times set by the client
  • are paid a regular amount according to the hours they have worked, and get paid for working overtime.

This means that a personal assistant might work for some clients and be self-employed, but work for others on an employed basis because of the nature of the work.

The rules are the same whether the person paying the worker is paying them privately or whether they are using direct payments provided by the council.

Where to get advice

You can contact HMRC by calling their mobile-friendly general enquiries helpline on 0300 200 3300.

If you are unsure whether a contract would be considered self-employment or employment, HMRC have tools to help:

If you decide to become a self-employed PA accredited by Support with Confidence, you’ll be provided with further training and support to become a ‘sole trader’ business.

Training and support

We support Personal Assistants to develop skills in specialised care and gain a certificate in Health and Social Care at no cost. This can also lead to higher education for nursing, social work and many other health and social care roles.

Free training in East Sussex

If you would like to attend training you will need to register as a Personal Assistant for free on our East Sussex Learning portal.

Once you have registered, you can book on one of these courses to find out more about the role. Search on the portal for:

  • Personal assistant in health and social care – (Virtual training)

We also support Personal Assistants and employers to access specialist training or apply for funding to attain a qualification in health and social care.

For further information about training and support:

Email: Renee Jasper-Griffiths

East Sussex Personal Assistant’s Network (ESPAN)

The East Sussex Personal Assistants Network (ESPAN) is a place where Personal Assistants can share their thoughts, ideas and concerns in a mutually supportive environment, and benefit from the experience of others. 

These friendly and informal meetings are led by personal assistants or care and support services in their local communities. The meetings are open to all current or potential personal assistants, users of PA services and any care and support service operating within East Sussex.

The aims of the network are to:

  • be a welcoming point for new and potential Personal Assistants
  • work in partnership with others to promote best practice in personal support roles
  • offer support and advice for Personal Assistants using the combined knowledge and skills of attendees
  • be an access point for introductory training and further development
  • be a source of referral for new business, and cover for holidays
  • share information of local resources and services
  • extend the meetings to businesses / people / customers interested in the work we do

There will also be opportunities at some of the meetings to meet staff from the Support with Confidence scheme, hear from local speakers, and find out how the council can support, develop and promote Personal Assistants and other providers in the vital work they do.

Meeting dates

Due to Covid precautions, all meetings are currently  by invitation only and are held 'on-line'.

These meetings take place by area, in case you wish to meet others local to you, but you are welcome to join any date.

Monday (The Havens)

To request an invitation, email: debicampbell1969@gmail.com

Wednesday (Eastbourne)

To request an invitation, email: bentrowell71@gmail.com

 Thursday (Hastings/Rother)

To request an invitation, email:


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