Today a new personal assistant started working for me. You won’t believe the problems of replacing a PA. Advertising is quite clear – I specify hours and pay rate and the only requirements that I have are that it has to be somebody female and a non-smoker. I think that the problems stem from the fact that the caring industry as a whole is not recognised as a profession. There is no career progression within caring, and there is no pay increment. Considering that the industry as a whole is so large within this country, and remembering that we have an ageing population, with a greater demand on the body as a whole, I believe that the whole system needs a complete makeover. If we placed the importance and recognised that without it, so many people would be so abandoned, we might begin to realise the potential within caring. There is no training, and many of the people who apply for a job with me are coming from outside of the industry. In the past, I have had some really great PAs who I don’t want to lose, and some who I am happy to say goodbye to. I can’t keep the same PAs with me unless I can make the job satisfying. I would say that the rate that I pay is not sufficient, and I want to offer an inflation rated pay rise every year, but because the budget that I am given faces a cut each year, I am just not able to afford it. Keeping the disabled and elderly in their own homes has to be of benefit to everyone, and should I be taken into care or a home, it would be hugely more expensive to keep me there than to pay a decent amount of money for me to stay at home. Some care homes cost as much as £1500 a week. I receive £250 a week to provide my own care, that’s just absurd. It is presumed that caring for someone as a job is sometimes described as just ‘wiping people’s noses’ for a living. There is nothing in that that is recognised as a ‘proper job’. However, Andy can go to work for a call centre and it’s seen to be legitimate. Somebody needs to do something before the whole system completely collapses.