Personal assistants and personal carers perform a wide range of services for their clients, ranging from providing nursing services to running errands around town. You have a number of options when it comes to finding personal assistant care, and it's well worth it to take the time to find the right fit for you. The right personal assistant can become a valuable friend and ally as well as a critical member of your care team.
Determine the level of care you need. Do you need the services of a trained nurse? Are you in a wheelchair? How limited is your mobility? Does your personal assistant need a car to run errands to the grocery store, pharmacy, library, and so forth? What kind of assistance do you think you would benefit from? Do you need a personal assistant who lives with you, or can your assistant come in for a set period of time every day or week? You may want to talk to your doctor about your condition and the level of care you require now, and in the future.
Assemble a list of key tasks and requirements, such as the ability to clean and maintain a feeding tube, or a willingness to do light household cleaning. Organize this list by priority, and be willing to compromise; for example, if you need help cleaning the house and you need someone who can perform injections, you may need to get a housekeeper and a personal assistant with nursing experience.
Find some candidates for the position. Many local governments and health departments offer referrals for personal assistants, or help to place personal assistants. These agencies may also be able to connect you with sources of funding to help you pay for a personal assistant. While you may ultimately decide not to use the services of a government-recommended carer, it can be a good start.
In addition to looking at service providers recommended by the local government, you may also want to ask for referrals from your local hospital/hospice. You can also find lists of local personal care providers through professional organizations, or through activist organizations which promote independent living for people with disabilities.
You can also place an advertisement in the paper, or scan newspaper ads for skilled personal assistants looking for work. If you write an ad, make sure to specify key aspects of the position, so that unqualified or uninterested candidates don't waste their time applying.
Select several candidates to interview. Hopefully, your scouring of the available personal assistants in your area has generated a list of potential candidates. Contact each of your candidates to request a resume and references, and review these materials carefully to generate a list of candidates you would like to interview. Take the time to get phone references and talk with them about the candidate.
Set up interview appointments with your candidates, and make it clear that you are speaking with several potential personal assistants. Use your priority list to create a set of interview questions which are designed to test the basic competency of your potential candidates, and to see how well they will mesh with you. During your interview, you should plan on discussing your specific disability and needs, and be sure to ask the candidate if he or she has experience in caring for clients with your condition.
You should outline the expected wage and hours, along with the tasks which you will expect your personal assistant to perform. Be honest about the amount of work involved; you don't want a personal assistant who ends up being surprised!
Once you've asked your interview questions, open the floor to questions from your candidate. Encourage the interviewee to ask about anything which seems unclear, and pay attention to the kinds of questions asked, as they can sometimes be revealing.
While technical skill and willingness to perform tasks are important, personality is too. You want a personal assistant you can get along with, not someone whom you will be fighting with constantly. If you have interests in common and compatible personalities, you are more likely to establish a long-term relationship with your personal carer, and this relationship will greatly improve your quality of care.
Make a job offer to your chosen candidate. After the interview period, you will hopefully have found a personal assistant who meets your needs. Contact him or her to make a job offer, and once the candidate accepts, take the time to contact your other interview candidates and let them know that you chose someone else.
Hopefully you will enjoy a long and productive relationship with your personal carer. When/if your assistant does decide to leave for another job, offering to provide a letter of reference is common courtesy.
s.e. smith is a connoisseur of literature, adventures, and fine food who loves sharing knowledge with others and putting her otherwise marginally useful liberal arts degree to good use.