Top Tips for Hiring a PCA
Let’s begin with what a PCA is, and what a PCA is not.
A personal care assistant should entail three things:
Personal, Caring, Assisting
I know those attributes seem a bit obvious, but through my experience, I have found it very difficult to find someone that fits all three categories. But don’t give up--that person is out there.
The importance of being personal
It is crucial to remember that this person will be involved in the most personal, intimate aspects of your life. Showering and cleaning every nook and cranny of your body, helping you organize important documents, going with you to doctor appointments, cleaning your dirty dishes, and washing your dirty laundry.
I can’t think of anyone that gets more personal than that (excluding intimate relationships, of course). Also keep in mind that this person should maintain a high level of class and professionalism, all while being in the midst of your personal life.
I’ve had experiences with PCA’s who aren’t comfortable with the fact that they will not only be seeing me naked, but have to clean me. Big red flag! Probably not the best fit.
Finding someone who is caring
Now again, this feels like it should be a given, but remember: sometimes people apply for jobs simply for a job. Knowing that this person will be spending hours and hours in your home and helping care for you, I suggest someone who enjoys personal care and is naturally a caregiver.
He or she will not know all of your needs right away, but you can immediately identify someone who wants to be caring. I find that the attitude of the caregiver plays a large role in the atmosphere of the home.
If the caregiver doesn’t like to care for others, I can almost guarantee that a negative attitude will arise down the road. And it will eventually affect your everyday life.
Assisting in what I can't do on my own
I always like to say my caregivers are my hands. They are there to help assist me in things I am unable to do on my own. From brushing my teeth to giving me food, they are present to help me in all of the daily functions that I need.
What a PCA is Not:
A PCA is not there to do everything. There is a balance you have to maintain, between knowing what your limits are, and asking for help when needed.
If there are things you are capable of doing, do it! It is actually very satisfying for you to know you have control over some things in your life.
The caregiver also receives satisfaction to see you are trying your best. Meanwhile, they are still there to assist you whenever you need them.
But they are not your household manager. They do not get to dictate how you run your home, nor should you make them!
They are simply there to be your hands.
Okay, you made it. So now, for some quick tips on hiring a new PCA!
My best advice for hiring a PCA:
Do not hire anyone you cannot fire! I have put myself in many awkward situations because I have hired friends and family members and could not find it in me to fire them when it was absolutely appropriate to do so.
Oftentimes it is easy to hire people that are related to us or really good friends of ours; however, if you cannot fire them, it’s probably wise to assume that they are not the right person for the job.
I am not saying close friends or family members cannot be your caregivers, but this is a job. They’re not there solely to help you out of the kindness of their heart. They are there to fulfill a role.
Have a routine. Write out a list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks you would like to see accomplished. This sets a clear expectation for the PCA and gives you the liberty to not have to micromanage your PCA.
Usually, I want to get some work done while they’re able to help with things such as laundry, or straightening up my bathroom. And I love when a PCA is able to prepare food for me, without me even asking.
Creating a routine will help everyone. Be flexible. Some days, you may decide to skip certain activities.
Let your PCA know--communication is key. That way, he or she will have a clear understanding of what your desires are, which will help everyone be successful.
And it’s worth mentioning this: they won’t always get everything right. Give your PCA a little grace! They are learning from you, so do your best to teach them with patience.
Decide on your non-negotiables early on. So many times I found myself unable to express what I truly wanted or how I felt because I didn’t establish it in the beginning.
If someone does not show up to work three times, no call no show, and that’s absolutely unacceptable make sure to lay that expectation down in the very beginning.
I know oftentimes we feel like our hands are tied behind our back because we need these people in our life. But trust me--it’s worth waiting just a little bit longer to hire the right person.
This is your life. You don’t want just anybody! Set your standards high, and look for the qualities that meet your criteria. It’s a process, but it’s worth it!
Have you found something to help you mentally cope with SMA?