Monday, July 18, 2011

Attendants - not an easy balance

As many people with disabilities know, personal care attendants become as crucial as your right arm. Depending on your needs, they do several things for you. In the process, friendships develop and often make being a boss challenging.

I can get along with most anyone. Usually when I hire an attendant they stay for awhile. I either need to fire someone, lay them off or they need to move on for financial reasons or personal reasons. Right now, I have two attendants who have been working for me for over three years. The longest attendant I've had was about five years.

Last Sunday, I had the painful task of firing a full time attendant who worked here almost a year and a half. To make a long story short, she was good except unreliable and pretty much set her own hours with little flexibility. She took the news fairly well. I think I put more energy into worrying about it then she did taking the news.

The person who replaced her has been my weekend attendant since January 2008. She lives an hour away but has been reliable, dependable and flexible. We discussed the distance because I always try to hire somebody close by. However, she has been successfully driving to my house over the last several years with no problem.

This is her second week working full time. Working with her has been easier than training a new employee. I still need to remember that I'm her boss and we need to keep business in check.

People don't realize, I believe, how challenging it is to have a personal care attendant. Everyday you're the boss and co worker. There are no breaks from living (eating, going to the bathroom etc.) You can't expect an attendant to be a robot or perfect. However, they can't expect you to be there counselor, life coach etc.

It's not an easy balance but I want to thank all the attendants out there for your dedication and respect.

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