Brian (PA): “I have lived in the Dumfries area all my life and for 33 years I worked in a factory, until being made redundant in 2009. I had also been in the Territorial Army (TA) for 33 years as a cook and after my redundancy I was asked to stay on with the TA to help out with the younger recruits.
I eventually had to retire from the TA, but I wanted to keep active and use my skills to help in some way. I saw Callum’s advert and thought I would give it a try. I was a bit nervous as I had no previous experience of this type of work, but I needn’t have worried: Callum and I hit it off right away and I have now been working for him for the last four years.”
Callum (PA employer): “From the age of nine years I lived in the countryside outside Dumfries with my grandparents, traveling into Dumfries to school. These were very happy times and my grandparents really supported me. However during secondary school I began to think about what I wanted to do with my life in the longer term. I had a great social worker who spent time listening to me and she inspired me to really think about what I wanted to do in the future. She helped me to apply for a direct payment and develop a plan for how I would use it. At first I used the direct payment to support me to go to a youth group twice a week and to go to a local respite resource. I had known one of the respite workers for a long time and I got on really well with her.
Eventually I decided to stop going to the respite resource and instead I used my direct payment to pay for overnight stays in her family home. That’s the beauty of direct payments, you can adapt the support to suit you. Although I love my grandparents and appreciated my great upbringing, I wanted to be more independent and develop ‘me’ as a person. My grandparents moved
to a small flat in Dumfries and by coincidence the ground floor flat below became available and that is where I now live. It allowed me to be independent, but still have their support if I needed it. In the past I had agency support but that was not fit for purpose. I now wanted to be in more control of my support and not have to keep repeating myself, telling different workers coming in and out what I wanted done. I felt that directly employing a PA was the way to go.”
Brian (PA): “I work with Callum two evenings a week. I also work as a school crossing patrol man and I finish that job around 4pm so the hours fit in really well. The school is just round the corner from Callum’s house so sometimes I pop in for a cup of tea and a chat before the afternoon shift. It’s really good
that we have developed the type of relationship where sometimes we can just be friends having a chat although during the hours I am working for Callum, I don’t forget who’s the boss! My tasks are mainly cooking, general domestic tasks and supporting Callum to go out socialising, keep up with the family or perhaps just going to play a game of pool. It was difficult to begin with and I must admit that I wasn’t very confident, but Callum was very clear about what he wanted and that helped. It also helps that we get on well and trust each other. Callum had agency support in the past and he felt that he was always having to fit in with the service’s needs. I am here to do what he wants, when he wants and how he wants it done. I really enjoy being able to contribute to the life Callum has chosen and actually if I was a bit younger I would take on more PA work. Having said that, you are never too old to give PA work a try. Just think of the work and life skills you can bring to it!”
Callum: “I have two other PAs: one who helps me during the day with general household tasks, bill paying, etc, and one who helps me with shopping once a week. As well as being a PA employer I have contributed to the promotion of the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013. I was a member
of the council’s working group that designed and delivered training to social work staff, which required me to have a sound knowledge of the legislation. I have also been trained in customer service. Being able to directly employ PAs is a fantastic thing and my life is a lot better as a result. However I, like most other PA employers, have to contribute toward the cost of my support. Over the past 4 months, funding for my support has been cut back and I also have to pay increased charges so I am paying more for less support. If this continues it will increasingly cause me difficulties in meeting other everyday costs, due to my limited income. Equally importantly it also risks the PAs’ livelihoods. If the worst comes to the worst I may have to make all of the PAs redundant. My condition will not improve and in fact I am advised that my mobility will decrease over time. I do worry about what the future holds as I do not want to lose the independence, choice and control that Self-directed Support has given me.”