Workplace Personal Assistants: exploring the role of workplace personal assistants for physically disabled people
An exploration of the role of workplace personal assistants and their relationships with disabled people and colleagues.
- Dr Jenni Brooks, Sheffield Hallam University
Disabled people are entitled to support in their workplace to meet their specific needs. This can include the provision of a personal assistant (PA). While there is a body of evidence on the PA role within the context of supporting disabled people in their homes, there is little research to inform and support the role of the PA in disabled people’s workplaces.
This project will focus solely on workplace PAs for people with physical or sensory impairments. While there has been research about supported employment for people with learning disabilities or mental health needs, the role of PAs working with people with physical or sensory impairments is likely to involve very different tasks, and there is little research about this group.
This lack of evidence means there is little high quality support for PAs, and little structure around which to encourage people to become workplace PAs. There is also a lack of support for disabled people employing PAs or the employers of disabled people.
This study will:
- Explore the context and roles of workplace PAs who support physically disabled people at work.
- Explore the relationships between workplace PAs, the disabled people who employ them, and others in the disabled person’s workplace.
- Work with workplace PAs, disabled people and employers to create guidance to support them in their roles.
We will recruit up to 15 small groups, each consisting of a disabled person, their workplace PA(s) and their employer. We will observe five of these groups in the disabled person’s workplace. We will interview all 15 of the groups (talking to each person separately), and we will also interview up to 15 disabled people, workplace PAs and/or employers who are not part of the groups.
We will also interview up to ten people from organisations which support workplace PAs, physically disabled people, or employers. Finally we will use what we have learned to run workshops with disabled people, employers and workplace PAs to co-create guidance to support the role of PAs in the workplace.
January 2016 - September 2017