News and views

10.03.2014

Service users link up with their own personal assistants

 

Service users link up with their own personal assistants

Photo: Stars of the LinkMeUp film - Service user Annie Parsons and personal assistant Naomi Matthews

A pioneering online service allowing adults and children with disabilities to link up with essential services at a click of a button has been launched.

‘LinkMeUp’ was showcased at Bromley Community House, by registered charity Vibrance. The site acts as an easily accessible Personal Assistant (PA) register to help find the right support for disabled children, adults and older people.

The event celebrated the launch of the site, with around 40 social care professionals in attendance.

The LinkMeUp project took just five months to develop, and paves the way for service users to have freedom of choice when choosing a PA.

People can use the site to search for PAs in the comfort of their home, giving an unprecedented level of control over who they receive support from.

Guest speakers included founder of the Connected Care Network, Shirley Ayres, and Linda MacEachen, from Skills for Care.

Ms Ayres said: “Digital technology and social networks provide some of the most powerful tools available today for building a sense of belonging, support and sharing among groups of people who share similar interests and concerns. The role of trusted intermediaries such as Vibrance are increasingly important.

“The new LinkMeUp website supporting personal choice is a great example of how technology is redefining the way care and support can be provided in a digitally connected society.”

The project received a £10,000 grant from Skills for Care - a workforce development body for children and adults in social care.

Vibrance’s Chief Executive, Paul Allen, said: “The aim of LinkMeUp is actually quite simple, it is to make it as easy as possible for anyone looking for a PA to find one, and for anyone who wants to work as a PA to be matched with people who wish to hire them.

“LinkMeUp’s potential is huge and goes well beyond the basic function of matching PAs to people who need them. Introducing a Smartphone App would be one of our wishes, and of course to develop and professionalise the PA market through training and peer support opportunities, and events which could be advertised and co-ordinated via the website itself.”

The register is now active for individuals wanting to apply in Bexley, Bromley and the surrounding areas, where currently Vibrance receive 20 enquiries each month for people looking to employ a PA.

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