Caregiving

Finding Personal Care Assistants

Nobody likes needing someone to help them with personal things, but when you have a spinal cord injury this is a reality for many, but not all. From showering to needing help going to the bathroom, all of this takes some adjusting.

Many people with spinal cord injuries hire Personal Care Assistants (PCAs) to assist in their daily living activities. PCAs can assist with getting in and out of bed, stretching your legs and arms, dressing, managing your bowel and bladder and helping with homemaking activities like laundry and cleaning.

Finding a PCA however, or one that you like rather, can be tricky. The search can be long and you may end up with several people that don't work out before you findsomeone you’re comfortable with. But like anything, you need to keep trying. Some people will let their agency do the searching for them, while others search themselves. 

You may want to start your search online by placing a job posting on a website such as Craigslist (Note: Craigslist charges $25 to post a job ad, and seem to be increasing this amount every couple years). Sites like Care.com are also good place to look for PCAs. They're not as popular, but you may find better quality and more experienced people on this type of site. You should also ask around. A family member or friend may know someone who would be perfect as your next PCA. Let everybody know you're looking for a new PCA, and someone great may just call.

After communicating with a candidate over email, you will want to schedule a brief interview in a public place; this is both for your safety and theirs. It doesn't have to be a long interview. Usually you will know right away if you like them. It's always good to have a list of questions so you don't forget to ask anything important. If you decide to go with an agency to help you find PCAs, don't forget to be very specific about what you're looking for. Let them know everything you want, and what you don't want, so you aren’t wasting your time.

Before starting your search, make a list of the qualities you want in a PCA:

  • What hours are they needed? How many days a week?
  • What tasks do you need help with?
  • What attributes are you looking for?

What kind of personality should your PCA have? (efficient, friendly, quiet, reliable, professional - what do you prefer?)

It is an art form finding good PCAs. In addition to getting someone who can do everything you need them to, personalities need to match up and so do schedules. When the professional relationship does work, those potentially embarrassing or awkward situations we described earlier become much more tolerable. Please watch the video below to learn more on finding PCAs and make sure to read the Takeaway Points below.

Video: How to find a Good Caregiver

Takeaway Points

  • You may have to go through several caregivers to find the right one
  • Create a list of the qualities you're looking for in a PCA
  • You can search for your own PCA or have an agency search for you
  • Be choosy when searching; don't just settle
  • Look for compassionate, reliable and friendly, and patient people

Table of Contents
  1. Finding Personal Care Assistants
  2. Managing PCAs