Research on abuse and violence against the social care workforce: focus on personal assistants: report

Document type
Cairncross, Liz; Crick, Andrew
Skills for Care
Date of publication
1 November 2014
Social Work, Social Care and Social Services
Social welfare
Material type

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After reviewing the literature, relevant legislation and guidance, an on-line survey of local authority workforce leads, members of the Personal Assistants (PA) Framework Steering Group, PA agencies and PAs was conducted, followed by interviews with a cross-section of PAs and other stakeholders. There is evidence that although most PAs do not experience violence at work, it does happen to some PAs; while a majority of PAs have experienced abuse – mainly verbal abuse. The perceived potential risk of violence is a concern for PAs; however verbal abuse is more of a concern for PAs than other forms of abuse or violence.

Some of the issues around abuse and violence against PAs are common to other groups of lone workers but some are specific to PAs, in particular, for those who are self-employed. PAs face unique risks and challenges associated with their isolation and vulnerability, working often in people’s own homes (not unlike the risks and challenges of their employers). Like their employer, PAs are also potentially vulnerable in one-to-one situations, lacking back-up if needed and without a witness if something happens. The often close working relationship between employer and PA can create situations where boundaries may blur and either side could potentially take advantage of the other, including financial abuse.

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