Fortunately, personal care services are granted to those with physical disabilities. Waiver programs make these very important services affordable. I am blessed to have personal care services so I can live as independently as possible.
In my experience of having personal care, I’ve seen good and bad attendants, but also good and bad behavior from those who need the services. I have had one attendant for eight years and another for almost three. In this, the first in a series of articles on this topic, I will share my experience with you.
Congratulations! You are a manager to someone helping you. Unfortunately, it might not be your long-lost dream to be a manager, but it’s a lot better than not being independent. Independence is now yours.
Before hiring an attendant, write down your objective and your needs. Writing it down can help you prioritize what you really want from an employee. Remember, these are people who are paid to help you accomplish daily living tasks. Be honest and reasonable in your specific needs.
Make sure you interview many candidates and do not settle for the first person. You need reliability, punctuality, respect, integrity and from them to be able to do what you need. In addition, you need to get along because you’ll be together often. It’s best not to rush the process in finding the right attendant. Ask about job history, how they feel about working holidays, other obligations they might have, what they won’t do, how they feel about driving in bad weather, cleanliness and flexibility in scheduling.
Your personal care attendant isn’t your slave, counselor, financial advisor, best friend or doctor. Don’t treat them as such. Certainly, you can talk to them, and always be nice and keep a sense of humor. Especially at first, your attendant needs to earn your trust. But telling him or her everything about you and your money might hurt you later.
Attendant is paid to assist
Remember that the attendants are there to work for you. If, in time, a friendship develops, always remember that you’re the boss during work hours. They’re being paid to assist you. I say this because it’s easy to get mixed into drama.
I recommend keeping the life of your attendant, or any problems you might have with them, off social media. It takes me a long time to “friend” an employee on Facebook because I don’t think it’s appropriate and might result in problems later on. Never put down or gossip about your personal care attendant online. Treat their privacy like you would like others to treat yours.
I thank my employees and make sure they know I appreciate their hard work. Being an attendant isn’t easy, and they are definitely not paid what they’re worth. A smile, kind word, sense of humor and communication can make your day and their day go so much smoother. I try to greet them with a smile and treat them as I want to be treated.
If your attendant does something you don’t like, makes you feel uncomfortable, is constantly late or on their phone, or not getting their tasks completed, you need to speak up. I know that confrontation can be miserable and this is why I’m cautious about becoming overly friendly with attendants. Try to tell them something positive they are doing before you point out the negative.
Be clear about what you want and be consistent in telling them if they forget. Of course, be forgiving, but if the not-good behavior doesn’t change within a certain amount of time, more action might be needed. If you don’t feel comfortable confronting your attendant alone, have someone sit with you, or write them an email.
On a daily basis, I print out a list of what I expect to accomplish. At the top, I place the activities that must be done every time. Then I list what I’d like to do specifically that day. Having a list keeps me organized and my attendants accountable. It also frees them from having to ask what you need or want because it’s already written. My attendants love having the list.
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