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‘I have enough pressure as it is, without the worry of doing something wrong because of ignorance’: The impact of Covid-19 on people who employ social care personal assistants

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Published7 Dec 2022

King's Authors


People with care and support needs were often badly affected by Covid-19, although the impact on people employing Personal Assistants (PAs) has not been addressed. We aimed to explore the experiences of people employing PAs during the pandemic to inform care systems and social work practice. Remote qualitative interviews were conducted with seventy PA employers across England in 2021–2022. Data were analysed thematically to explore salient themes. The Covid-19 pandemic elucidated role tensions of PA employers: Navigating care arrangements during a time of unprecedented uncertainty reinforced participants’ role as an employer, but exposed some aspects of employment responsibilities and legal obligations that participants felt ill-equipped to manage. Reports of contact with or by social workers were few and not perceived as helpful. The often-informal nature of PA arrangements and its blurred relational boundaries affected participants’ expectations of their PAs. PA employers would welcome support from social workers in their employment role and flexibility with care plans, albeit with greater autonomy over their Direct Payment (DP) budget to enhance the potential of this arrangement. In the context of declining DP uptake in England, our study offers some potential explanations for this, with suggestions for systemic change and social work practice.

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