Archive for March, 2012

How to Recruit a Personal Assistant

Having a Personal Assistant, that you recruit to do what your elderly relative wants, when they want it done, can make a big difference to their life. Benefits include continuity, flexibility and value for money. However, your relative will need to act as their employer which brings responsibilities. You can help them of course, and at the end you will find a link to a site that offers plenty of help and advice on employment issues. Good luck!

1. Begin by sitting down with your elderly relative and produce a Person Specification.

This will be used to measure candidates against for your short list. Think together about the things that are really important to the older person with regards to their personal care and or daily living. Here are some headings you can use:

• Preferred age e.g. Mature

• Education/qualifications e.g. Must be literate

• Experience e.g. Previous care work

• Knowledge e.g. Diabetes, knowledge of their local area

• Personal attributes e.g. Honest, punctual, flexible availability and attitude, car owner-driver and owner.

2. Devise a job description for your personal assistant.

This description should clearly state their needs and include all the daily tasks they need help with on both a regular and occasional basis.

3. Place a classified ad for their local newspaper.

Ask each candidate send a resume with a cover letter to a P.O. Box address. Study the resumes for related experience as well as the quality of the resume itself.   

4. Consider the applicants based on their work experience,

But don’t immediately reject college students, retirees or recent grads. College students or recent grads may be suitable if their education relates to social or domiciliary care. Retirees may bring invaluable life experience and maturity to the role.

5. Trim the list of candidates for interview using the person specification to match the applicants.

6. Schedule an interview.

The interview is your opportunity to evaluate the candidate’s personality, to see how he or she thinks and reacts. You can discover if the resume accurately represents the person. Consider having someone else who knows your relative sit in to provide objective feedback. Be prepared to discuss salary, hours and your relative’s requirements in more detail.

7. Offer a trial period for a month.

Hiring a personal assistant is much like starting a new relationship. Until they start working together, you won’t know if their personalities will mesh.

8. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Offer good information to help people employ their own personal assistants. You can find them here

Have your elderly parents made a Will?

Richard Patterson, a retired solicitor who has many years of legal experience about the importance of your elderly relative making a will, shares his experience.

Unfortunately people are often unaware of the consequences of dying without having made a Will. In this situation they are said to have died intestate and the intestacy rules apply. These rules are very specific as to who gets what and how much and may mean that their estate passes to people they did not want it to whilst not providing for someone dear to them. Indeed the ultimate beneficiary of an intestate estate is The Crown! By having a Will they decide who gets what, not the State. They also get to appoint the executors who will deal with their assets. Further, a properly drawn up Will could provide significant Inheritance Tax savings or may minimise the effect of long-term nursing care on the family fortunes. Wills need not be expensive and they can save money in the long run.

While many people think about wills they don’t always consider a Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) Their Will looks after their affairs after they have died; LPAs are for their benefit whilst they are alive. There are two types of LPA. There is a ‘Property and Financial affairs’ LPA and a ‘Health and Welfare’ LPA. LPAs are legal documents, which authorise someone, usually a relative, or friend, (the attorney) to assist them with their property and financial affairs and/or health and welfare issues if they are no longer able to manage them themselves. However, whilst they are fit and well they can continue to look after their own affairs. In the absence of an LPA, if they were to lose mental capacity, someone (again usually a relative or friend) would have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as their Deputy. This can be a time consuming and stressful process as well as being expensive.  LPAs provide peace of mind for the future, for you and your parents, as you will be able to make decisions on their behalf and know they are the right ones, if they are no longer able to do it themselves.

Richard Patterson LLB is a recently retired Solicitor who has set up his own business as a Professional Will Writer. Richard has become an Associate member of the Society of Will Writers ASWW and can be contacted on;

07940873765 or

NHS and Social Care Reforms- The Health and Social Care Act 2012

Healthcare in England is in the midst of major reform and there have been many discussions, U-turns and revisions of the government’s contraversial Health and Social Care Bill which has divided opinion amongst the medical profession, politicians and the public. A newly amended Health and Social Care Bill has emerged, representing the biggest shake-up of the NHS since it was created. After a year in parliament, more scrutiny than any bill in living memory, and more than 1,000 amendments in the House of Commons and House of Lords, MPs approved final changes to the legislation on 20th March 2012. On 27th March 2012 the  Health and Social Care Bill gained Royal Assent to become the Health and Social Care Act (2012) .

The core principles of the Act mean that doctors and nurses will be able to tailor services for their patients, more choice will be given to patients over how they are treated, and bureaucracy in the NHS will be reduced. So what are the main legislative changes?

Summary of the Act

  • Primary Care Trusts and strategic health authorities will be abolished as part of a radical structural reorganisation, with new health and wellbeing boards being established to improve integration between NHS and local authority services.
  • Establishes an independent NHS Commissioning Board to allocate resources and provide commissioning guidance.
  •  Commissioning Groups will take over commissioning from primary care trusts and will work with the new NHS Commissioning Board in doing so
  • A new regulator, Monitor, will be established to regulate providers of NHS services in the interests of patients and anticompetitive behaviour.
  • The voice of patients will be strengthened through the setting up of a new national body, HealthWatch, and local HealthWatch organisations
  • Strengthens the role of the Care Quality Commission.
  • A new body, Public Health England, will lead on public health at a national level and local authorities will do so at a local level.

Key amendments 

  • New duties to promote integrated care have been placed on key bodies including the NHS Commissioning board, Monitor and clinical commissioning groups.
  • The original deadline for establishing Clinical Commissioning Groups by April 2013 has been relaxed.
  • Several changes have been made to increase clinical involvement in commissioning, with clinical commissioning group governance arrangements also strengthened and a requirement added to them to publish a members’ register of interests.

Most of the detail of how the Health and Social Care Act will work in practice is still to be addressed through secondary legislation and guidance and questions remain around much of the detailed operation of the bill so it’s a question of watch this space!

Looking at this Act,  and all the controversy that surrounds it, we would do well to remember that GPs initially opposed the introduction of the NHS in 1948. Opposition to change is part of the NHS’s history. My experience of introducing personal social and healthcare budgets reinforced how strongly health and social care professionals resist change, even when the current system is clearly not working and people’s quality of life can be improved.

How the Health and Social Care Act will work in practice is still to be addressed through secondary implementation and guidance. The Act does not have an immediate impact on patients and the way it is implemented will be critical. As with most things, the devil will be in the detail!

I for one am getting bored with all the rhetoric about privatisation via the back door, processes and structures and want us to get back to talking about how the quality of people’s lives and healthcare experience can be improved and personalised.

Let’s stop bleating about the NHS being free at the point of delivery. Isn’t there a prescription charge so many of us pay towards medication? And what about NHS dental care? Many of us contribute towards these costs too. There always has and always will be a two tier system. People who have the means can already choose private healthcare. No it isn’t fair, but we are not a communist society. We would be better spending our energy on how we can share out the diminishing cake as fairly as possible, so at least basic care for older people is adequately funded.

Nye Bevan could never have envisaged the extent of the progress made since the NHS was formed and had he known, would certainly have done things differently. His vision of the NHS in the last millennium could never have been fit for purpose in 21st Century Britain.

I will be watching with interest to see how implementation of the Health and Social Care Act will affect us and share my findings with you so watch this space!