Hiring the Right PCA
I like to equate hiring a new caregiver to committing to a good relationship.
It takes more time in the beginning, but once everyone’s in the groove and comfortable, it’s easy-peasy lemon-squeezy!
As many of us know, our in-home care is a key element to living a good life. What people do not realize is that we are living daily life with our caregivers.
It’s not your typical “hire-and-fire.” Some days I spend more time with my PCA than I do with my own husband.
I hope to give you some helpful tips based on my own experience. Here is what to look for in a PCA, some interview questions to help you get to know them, and how to enjoy your life with your caregiver.
What do I look for in a PCA? Where do I start?
Write a list of what’s important to you. As a young girl, I had somebody advise me to write a list of qualities that I want to see in my future husband. So I thought why not do this with a PCA?
Everyone has different priorities in a relationship. Some may say values, reliability, work ethic, work history, references, etc. No matter what they are, take some time and write down what comes to mind.
Think of what is the most important to you when you consider having this person become integrated into your everyday life.
Top considerations for a new personal care assistant
Here are my top 5 MUST-HAVES when thinking of hiring a new PCA.
- Gender and Age. Although I know people of different genders and ages are fully qualified and capable of doing PCA work, it is important for me personally to have a female, close in age to myself. Since I know I was going to be spending a lot of time with this person, I wanted someone that could relate to me on many levels.
- Reliability. I wanted somebody who had their own transportation and who truly understood the value of their position in my life. I try to communicate early on how important it is for my caregiver to be reliable. Without them, it shakes everything up. So I needed to know that this person would be extremely dependable. I know this can be a hard conversation, and sometimes something you won’t figure out until later down the road. But it’s always good to express this at the very beginning.
- Able and willing. If they can drive around town and run errands with me (believe it or not, some do not like doing this), we are golden. I am a woman on the go and I need my PCA to be willing to do life with me, wherever that may be!
- Similar morals and values. If I’m spending so much time with this person, I don’t want to continually feel like I’m battling them in every conversation. I want to know that we have the same stance on some levels. Don’t get me wrong--I do like the challenge of getting to know new people. However, as for someone that’s going to be working with me on a daily basis, I want to know that we share similar values.
- Someone with a fun personality. I’m going to be spending a lot of time with this person, and they’re going to be spending a lot of time around me and my family. I don’t want someone who is there only to collect a paycheck. I need someone who is present and going to have fun doing life with me, my kids, my husband, and my friends.
Top questions for an interview
Here are my top questions to ask someone during the hiring process.
- Why do you want this job?
- What are your personal future plans? (This question usually tells me if someone is in for the long haul or not.) Not that you only can hire someone that’s in it for the long haul, but if I know someone plans to start school in the next year, that at least gives me a good idea of what this relationship looks like.
- What do you do for fun? This will help when building the fun, relational side of your PCA partnership.
- How do you handle stress or when you do something wrong? Be gracious to your new PCAs. They don’t know exactly how you like things yet. If you’re like me, you’re probably pretty particular, so be kind in the way that you ask things. Give them time to learn your special ways.
Tips to enjoy your time with your PCA
Get to know them! Being that you will spend a lot of time with this person, I suggest putting good effort into building the relationship.
Plan fun things with them included--this can be a simple “let’s go grab coffee today!”
Be open and honest with them. People value true connection and true relationships.
I have found truly amazing friendships within my PCA relationships. Yes, they come and go, and some last longer than others. But knowing that you’ve done your best at building a healthy work environment for the other person, while also having your needs met, is a great feeling.
The process takes time and effort. Like any other stable relationship in its early stages, you are getting used to the other person, a commitment, and understanding you’re on the same team.
Have you, or someone you know been diagnosed with SMA?