Personal Assistance (PA) Informational Workshop:July 31st, 2008, 5:00 to 6:30 PMEngleman Hall – Room B-121 Workshop Facilitators: Deborah Fairchild, Assistant Coordinator, Disability Resource Center Kelly Mann, Assistant Coordinator, Disability Resource Center
PA Workshop Agenda • 6:00-6:10 Introduction and Overview of Workshop • SCSU Policy • PA Manual On-Line • 6:10-6:30 Orientation for Becoming a PA • What is a PA? • Who uses a PA? • Basic Roles • Hours a PA Might Work • The Hiring Process • 6:30-7:00 Stories from Both Perspectives: Student & Personal Assist. • 7:00-7:20 The Importance of Effective Communication • Role Play: A learning experience • 7:20-7:30 Q & A
Personal Assistance Policy Southern Connecticut State University’s Disability Resource Center (DRC) assists students with recruiting and identifying a pool of potential personal assistants. • Personal assistants work directly for and are employed and paid for by the student. • As a service, the DRC will assist students by accepting applications from persons interested in working as a personal assistant, either in person or online. • Applications are passed on to the student in need of assistance, who then makes direct contact with the prospective personal assistant. • Students who use a personal assistant are responsible for securing, training, supervising and paying their personal assistant. Upon request, the DRC will assist students with learning this process.
What is a Personal Assistance (PA)? • A PA (sometimes called a personal care attendant or PCA) supports people with disabilities to live more independent lives. A personal assistant (PA) works directly for and is employed by the individual with a disability.
The Role of a PA • A common misunderstanding is that a personal assistant “takes care” of people. This is not true. The person with the disability is the employer. People may have some things they cannot do because of their disabilities. The role of a personal assistant is to fill in the gaps so that the person with a disability can do what everyone else does. The personal assistant may be the “hands” to assist with eating, bathing and dressing; the “voice” to help with communication when the person is non-speaking; or the “legs” to run errands.
Possible Tasks of a PA • Bathing and toileting • Dressing and grooming • Housekeeping • Meal preparation and/or assistance with eating • Positioning or transferring to and from a wheelchair • Running errands • Other duties as needed
Good listener Dependable Flexible Patient Respectful Willing to learn Good sense of humor Able to follow directions Trustworthy Honest Desirable Qualities in a PA
Hours a PA Might Work • The hours for a PA will vary. Some students need just a few hours in the morning to get out of bed and get ready for the day. Others may need assistance throughout the day or in the evening. • The role of a PA is to make it possible for a person with a disability to live a life like everyone else.
The Hiring Process--Questions to Ask Persons who use Personal Assistance • What kind of assistance will you need? • Can we meet for a training sessions so you can show me exactly how to assist you? • Do you mind if I ask some questions regarding your disability? • How much do you pay per hour, what happens if you only need me for a portion of an hour? How often and on what day do I get paid? • What is your method for keeping records of the hours I work? • Can you verify times, meeting locations, and a start-up date?
Questions to Ask a Prospective PA • Are you still available for the days and hours written on your application? Has anything in your schedule changed since you filled out the application? • Tell me about any previous experience you have had working with people with disabilities. • I will need assistance with the following tasks (share your list of needs). Will you be able to fulfill these tasks? • (If interviewee is a commuting student) How will you get to school/work if you have a problem with your primary transportation? • If your schedule allows, would you be willing to work extra hours in a situation where another PA is unable to make it? • Do you have any questions about what the job requires? • Do you have any further questions you would like to ask me regarding my disability?
Effective Communication:Resolving Conflicts • Open communication is your first solution against misunderstandings and disagreements. Appropriately addressing difficult or uncomfortable situations as they come up will prevent them from snowballing into something more serious. However, when the issue becomes more serious, it is very important that you make every effort to resolve it as soon as possible.
If a Problem Occurs…. • Schedule a time to fully discuss this issue. • Prior to the meeting, write down your concerns so you can organize your thoughts and ensure that you don’t forget what you want to address. • Discuss your concerns. Be aware of your emotions and how they affect what you are trying to say. Anger, sarcasm and defensiveness shut down communication.
If a Problem Occurs continued…. • Use “I” statements. This shows that you are taking ownership of your own feelings and helps the other person understand where you are coming from. (Example: “I feel frustrated about your changing my hours last minute. It makes me anxious because I worry that I won’t be on time for my classes.”) • Avoid blaming, as this will put the PA immediately on the defense.
If a Problem Occurs continued…. • Let the other persons have a chance to voice his/her concerns. Listen actively and avoid interrupting. • Come to a final agreement about the problem. If necessary, put it in writing so each person leaves with the same understanding of the resolution.
Q & A • You can fill out an application to be a PA via the DRC website at www.southernct.edu/DRC