“After a spinal cord injury (SCI), one of the hardest things is getting used to needing help. If you have an injury that requires you to need daily caregivers 24/7, this is especially difficult. Not only do you need help with additional things, you need someone in your home day and night. You essentially have become the boss of a new part-time job,” says Tiffiny Carlson, a C5/C6 quadriplegic. She gives the following advice on hiring your own team of personal care assistants (PCA’s).
“The only difference between any other job you may have been the boss of and this, is that this job directly influences your daily life and personal affairs. If you do not staff it correctly, your basic needs will not be met.”
Hire Non-Family Members or Friends
Tiffiny’s first piece of advice concerning hiring your own caregiving team is to not hire your family members or friends. While many people do hire people they have relationships with, Tiffiny advises not to because the concept of ‘caregiver burnout’ can put a strain on your relationship. She suggests to use an interview process and hire people you do not know.
Post Ad On Student Job Boards
Many people post jobs on the internet using various job sites and social media outlets. However, Tiffiny says to remember to also post your ad on job boards at schools and universities in your area. “Every college in your area, from universities to community colleges, have online job boards from employers they respect. You can contact the people who run these job boards and ask if you can post your job ad. You may find high-quality students who are interested in the medical field this way,” she says.
Interview With Pre-Set Questions
If you find a good candidate Tiffiny recommends conducting an interview with them in a public place like a coffee shop or lobby of your apartment. Write down a set of questions that are important to you before the interview so you are better prepared. Tiffiny gives examples like “How did you become a PCA?” and “What is your availability like?”
Look For Experience
Tiffiny says one of the biggest qualities to look for when searching for a PCA (especially one for a person with an SCI) is experience. “Professionalism and reliability are almost as important, but experience ensures that they will be able to handle all of the duties of the job, including bowel and bladder care, and the mental anxieties many of us experience.”
“It's always good to look for people that are genuinely kind and good souls. This is of course always something to look for in any human being, but especially when you are searching for a caregiver.”
Tiffiny states a great way to maintain employee retention is to offer perks every once in a while. “A nice way to let them know that you care is by buying a food or beverage item they love when they're working, whether it’s coffee and doughnuts or a pizza,” she says.
Tiffiny concludes her post with some final advice of staying strong if you ever have to let a caregiver go. She says, “You'll never be able to amass the rock star team you want if you leave any duds around. Be strong and say goodbye.”
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