When I first was introduced to Personal Care Attendant (PCA) services, I didn’t know what I was doing. I had never worked before, much less been the employer. I had to learn how to manage employees so that I could get the care I needed. By no means am I the expert of employing PCAs, but I have learned a few things over the years. Here are my top five tips for making the relationship a success:
- Be Consistent: It is important to be consistent with your PCAs. There are times when your routine will be disrupted; but setting rules and remaining consistent is helpful. Limiting surprises by meaning what you say is critical. For example, I have a strict policy of not having my PCAs bring their children to work. When a child is sick, I’d rather them take the day off than bring their child to work.
- Organization is Key: As the employer, you are responsible for hiring, firing, and managing employees. This includes interviewing, completion of paperwork, keeping a timesheet, and signing off on the hours employees have worked. I like to keep a file on each employee. In it is a schedule, copy of their employee packet, insurance information, driving record, and past timesheets. Having this file makes it easier to handle any issues that may come up.
- Experience Isn’t Everything: Just because someone has experience in caregiving does not mean they are going to be the right fit for you. I have had nurses come to an interview with a list of medical procedures that they have been trained for; but I’m not interested because my needs are not medical. It is imperative that the employee has a teachable work ethic. My best employees didn’t have any experience but they respected my authority and learned how to successfully meet my needs.
- Express Expectations Immediately: I have a list of expectations that I share with each candidate that I interview. Being upfront with what you would like your employees to do will save time later. I made a list of the regular routine items but I stress flexibility is a must. Clear instructions are key!
- Set Boundaries: It is vital that you set boundaries with your PCAs. Even though they are in your home, they are still employees. There are going to be times when you and your family are going to have conversations around your PCA and he/she must know that these topics are confidential. Additionally, the relationship between PCAs and employers can be become close, but you always have to remember that it is a working relationship.
I hope these pointers can become a guide for when you hire a PCA. I know from experience that they can help cultivate a healthy working relationship, which will help meet your needs and create a positive experience for everyone.
****Angela West (right) earned a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her passion for disability advocacy stems from advocating for her own rights as a young woman with cerebral palsy. ****