Recruiting a personal assistant (PA)

PA recruitment checklist

If you are arranging and funding your PA support, this checklist will help you choose the right PA.

If you would like the checklist translated or in a different format, please contact the
Micro market development team.  

If you are receiving direct payment funding and would like help to recruit a PA, please visit Help with direct payments.  

Is a PA service right for you?

1. Do you understand what a PA does and the services they deliver?

A PA provides support with personal and domestic tasks. If you are older, disabled, or living with a mental health condition or a learning disability, you may benefit from receiving support from a PA.

You can choose a PA to provide one-to-one support to help you live independently at home. This can include supporting you with:

  • household tasks, such as cleaning, gardening and shopping
  • personal care, like washing and dressing
  • healthcare tasks, after PA completes relevant training
  • looking after children and pets
  • driving, attending appointments and leisure activities
  • organising paperwork
  • communicating with professionals and family members involved in your care and support

2. What PA support do you need?

Before looking for a PA, consider the following:

  • what support you need and when do you need it?
  • will you need more than one PA?
  • do you want the PA to support you long term or just for a short-term period? For example, whilst you recover from an operation.
  • does the PA need to have any specific experience, skills and training?

3. How will you pay for the PA support?

Before looking for a PA you will also need to know whether you will be paying for the PA support yourself or whether you can get funding from Adult Social Care towards the costs of this support.

To find out if you are eligible for funding, please visit paying for care at home.

4. Help with employing a PA and ensuring the right employment status

Before the PA starts, you will need to determine their correct employment status.

Whether the PA works with you on an employed or self-employed basis is not a choice either you or the PA can make.

For information on employment status, please visit Employment status - employed or self-employed.

This is important because it affects the way tax and National Insurance are calculated for the PA and how these are paid. If you don’t get it right you may be liable for back-payments of tax, National Insurance contributions and fines.

For help on employment status, we use an organisation called Independent Lives which offers support with employing your own staff. This includes:

  • helping you understand the rules that as an employer you must follow, such as employment law, insurance, tax and national insurance
  • writing job descriptions
  • recruiting staff
  • performing checks on possible personal assistants
  • ongoing support with being an employer

Independent lives contact details:

Please note there may be a charge for this service if you do not have adult social care eligible needs.

Who qualifies for our support?

Finding a PA service for you

East Sussex 1Space is East Sussex County Council's online directory for care and support services. The directory brings together individuals, groups and organisations that offer care, support and wellbeing services to people in East Sussex. It is free to use.

East Sussex 1Space will help you find a PA service in East Sussex.

You may also find it useful to read our tips for finding providers on East Sussex 1Space.

If you would like help to find a PA service, Independent Lives can help:

Useful questions when contacting a possible PA

  • What services does the PA offer?
  • Do they offer support on the days and times you need it?
  • What current availability do they have?
  • If you need them to, will they work evenings, overnight, weekends and bank holidays? 
  • Do you want them to transport you for appointments and outings, and are they insured to do so? You should ask to see their insurance certificate, or separate confirmation from the insurance company. This will allow you to check that the PA can use their car for business use in the capacity of transporting clients to or from appointments.


  • Does the PA have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check? You can ask to see their DBS certificate. If they do not have it, we strongly recommend this check is organised before they start. It is important to check whether the PA has any criminal convictions or cautions that would mean they are unsuitable to support you.
  • Can they provide you with contact details of their current or recent clients so you can ask for their reference?
  • Can they legally work in the UK?
  • Are they a member of any accreditation schemes? The PA can only join a scheme or a register once they successfully pass an evaluation of their service against quality standards. You should ask them for their membership details. This will allow you to check the relevant scheme's website and requirements, and confirm the PA's registration.

Experience and skills

  • Do they have the right experience to support your needs?
  • What training have they completed? You should consider what training is important for the support you need, as well as what training ensures a safe service is being delivered. The training can be in:
    • safeguarding, which includes protecting people from harm, abuse and neglect
    • emergency first aid
    • moving and handling
    • food hygiene
    • administering medication and infection prevention and control (you can ask to see their certificates).
  • Do they need any specialist training to support you? This can include training in dementia, autism or mental health (you can ask to see their certificates).
  • How do they keep their training up to date?
  • Does the PA need to speak a different language?

Working arrangements

  • We strongly recommend that you meet with the PA before you agree to their support. You should also consider having someone else there when you first meet them.
  • Would the PA be happy to work a trial period first?
  • Can they start when you need them to?
  • If they were off sick or on holiday, who would cover for them?

For PA services that can be delivered on a self-employed basis:

  • Will they issue you with a contract of their services?
  • Do they have a cancellation and complaints procedure?
  • Do they have public liability insurance?
  • Are they registered with HMRC for tax purposes?


For PA services that can be delivered on a self-employed basis:

  • What does the PA charge for their services? Ask them about their normal hourly rate, as well as their out of hours, weekend and bank holiday rates. Check if their costs differ for different services and if they charge for expenses such as fuel costs for transportation.
  • How and when will the PA invoice you for their services?
  • Once you have decided which PA you would like to support you, you can contact them to complete the necessary checks and make the final arrangements for them starting.

Values and interests

  • Why did they choose to become a PA?
  • What do they enjoy about the work?
  • What interests does the PA have, do you have something in common?
  • Think about what values are important to you and find out if they share the same values.
  • If you have cultural and religious needs, find out if the PA understands them and is happy to support you with them.
  • You should talk to the PAs about what is important to you and how you would like your support delivered.

Further information

Links and information provided within this checklist are for advisory purposes only.

East Sussex County Council are not responsible for the delivery of PA services and do not endorse or guarantee the quality of any PA services or accept any liability for the PA services provided. You are therefore required to complete your own due diligence and suitability checks and check all information provided to you by us and the PA before using any PA service.

If you wish to discuss this checklist or are unable to find a suitable PA service, you can contact Independent Lives

Concerns and complaints

To report concerns about abuse or neglect by a PA service provider, contact Adult Social Care and Health.

If you want to raise a complaint about a PA service provided, you should contact the provider directly.

If you are receiving direct payment funding for the PA support, you should contact the ASCH Complaints team who can provide advice and support: Making a complaint.

If you think a PA has broken the law or acted unfairly, please contact Citizens Advice Consumer service who provide consumer advice on behalf of Trading Standards.