August 31, 2017
Struggling to hire a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) either privately or through a Consumer Directed Personal Assistant program (CDPA)? Well, struggle no more! I, myself, have hired many PCAs and understand the challenge of finding reliable professional staff.
Since this is a very personal job, you don’t want to hire just anybody. Through years of experience, and some suggestions from other people with disabilities, here are my top 5 tips to help you get started in selecting the right PCA.
- Recruit on Campus
If you attend college, you’re at an advantage. Many college students are looking for employment with flexible hours. So if you want to break up your shifts, or only need to fill in some time gaps, this is a great place to look for people who only need a few hours a week. You can post your ad on a college bulletin board or in the campus news sources.
- Screen via the Phone
When screening a potential new hire, always do a brief phone interview first. Believe it or not, you can learn a lot from a person’s tone of voice and how they answer initial questions. Do not rule out a person just because they’ve never worked as a PCA before… they may end up being your best employee.
- Don’t Interview Alone
Never meet the potential hire alone — it’s best to have someone with you. This could be a friend, family member, or, my preference if you have one, a current PCA. During your interview, look at the person’s body language. He or she may be nervous at the beginning of the interview, but should settle in within a few minutes of casual conversation. However, if the nervousness doesn’t go away, the candidate may be uncomfortable around people with disabilities. While it’s important to educate people on proper disability etiquette, this is neither the time nor the place to do it.
- Always Trust Your Instincts
If anything feels off during an interview or after a new hire starts… cut the cord! We may not always be able to express why we feel uncomfortable with someone, but this is a very personal job as a PCA assists with everything. Therefore, if you feel the slightest bit uneasy, let the PCA go. A PCA works for you, to empower you. You should never feel powerless or afraid to be in your own surroundings.
- You Have the Right to Make a Switch
While these tips are for those who hire privately or through a CDPA program, even if you use a traditional home care agency, you are within your rights to call the agency coordinator and request a new PCA if you are not comfortable with the one that has been assigned.
Remember, when hiring a PCA, one size does not fit all. Like any individual, people with disabilities welcome advice from others. So, share your own best tips on hiring a PCA with us.
Denise Vargas is a graduate of the Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center and currently serves as a Managing Consultant to the Center on Alumni Relations & Advocacy. Part of her role includes overseeing the Viscardi Alumni Association, which she created in 2012. Under Denise’s leadership, the Alumni Association holds social events and wheelchair hockey nights and provides resources to alumni.