Do You Have What it Takes to be a Great Personal Care Attendant?

Do You Have What it Takes to be a Great Personal Care Attendant?


Have you ever considered becoming a personal care attendant? These essential workers enable people with chronic illnesses to be as independent as possible by assisting with daily living tasks such as transportation, shopping and house chores. Not everyone is cut out for this important work, but if you think being a personal care attendant is a job for you, read on and see if you have what it takes.

Personal care attendants also are sometimes direct care workers. The basic requirements are that you be at least 18 years old, can drive, be a U.S. citizen, and be able to pass criminal and child abuse background checks. Depending on your location, you may or may not be related to the person that you are providing care and services. Each agency and state has different rules, so it is best to ask questions or address any concerns at the outset.

Make sure you’re physically and emotionally capable of doing the tasks the person needs. Some people might need to be lifted completely, while others may just need your help. Some clients may have spouses, children and pets. Come into their home with the mindset that you are a member of the family and a be team worker. Being someone who nit picks about tasks will create more stress for everyone.

I have been using attendant care services for years because I have cerebral palsy. I cannot walk and I have some trouble doing simple tasks. Having someone assist me has been wonderful and has made my quality of life much better than being in an assisted living facility or relying on family. However, in my years of experience, I basically know what works and what doesn’t. That said, I am still learning every day to improve the employee-employer relationship.

A pleasant attitude goes a long way in the personal care field. I don’t expect anyone to be happy every moment of the day, but I don’t want an unhappy person who complains about their life. Once I had a personal care attendant who cried each morning about her personal life before getting me ready. I felt compassion for her, but I wasn’t her counselor and she was using her paid time with me unfairly. Think about your demeanor before caring for someone. Would you want someone like yourself to take care of  you or a family member?

Being on time and reliable is an absolute must as a personal care attendant. Don’t get me wrong; I know unexpected things happen. That is what makes life interesting. However, these occurrences should be few and far between. Your client is relying on your help. If they must find back-up care it is very stressful, if not impossible. As with any job, you are obliged to give your employer ample notice if you need time off. If you’re someone who is constantly late for work and has other obligations that keep you from being dependable, this might not be the right job for you.

Flexibility is a plus. Life is unpredictable and people change their minds. If you’re a rigid person on routines and structure, make sure you’re honest with your future employer about that in the interview. They have a right to know and you need to feel comfortable.

Listening and being able to follow directions also are important qualities to have. Sometimes you might not agree with how your client wants their house cleaned, food prepared, or any number of other tasks you may be required to perform. But remember, their life isn’t your life. Your job is to help them live how they want unless, of course, they are endangering themselves or others. If you need to, you can voice your concerns, but know that your life and their life are separate. Please don’t pry into their business or their relationships. They will tell you what they want you to know.

Your job is do be the best personal care attendant possible. Good luck!

Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.

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