An open letter to all personal assistants

Published Date

On behalf of all of us who require personal or social care, I invite anyone considering taking on the role of personal assistant to think carefully about what it really means before you do apply.

Firstly, this is not a choice for us. We’re not, for example, hiring a cleaner because we’re too busy or too lazy to clean our own homes. When we advertise for carers, it’s because we NEED them and not necessarily because we want them.

As physically disabled individuals, many of us cannot independently carry out essential everyday tasks including washing, dressing and toileting. To have no option but to entrust such tasks to another person, a stranger, is unnatural and inevitably unnerving. We are in effect placing our lives in your hands when you take on the role of personal carer.

Recruiting carers can be a lengthy and extremely stressful process for us. There’s the initial worry over whether there will be applicants at all, followed by the dreaded interview process. More often than not we find ourselves waiting aimlessly for interviewees to attend, yet they never show. Please do bear in mind that just because we are disabled, like you we have lives to lead too, so don’t waste our time. We appreciate there are valid reasons for failing to attend job interviews, but it’s no hardship making a quick phone call or sending a text message to let us know in advance. As you would with any potential employer, be professional and courteous.

If and when we are able to successfully recruit, it can be soul destroying when that person flippantly decides to resign days later. You may wonder how and why this can happen but the sad fact is that for many disabled people it is a reality. We are not afforded the luxury of being able to manage until a replacement is found; we can’t simply wait for the right person to show up. Some of us even have to resort to respite and residential homes in the meantime, thereby taking us away from our own homes and everything we hold dear. Try to imagine if you will, how demoralising and distressing such a situation would be if it happened to you. I therefore reiterate how important it is to think before applying for a role as a personal carer. Please don’t apply and agree to attend an interview if you don’t really mean it.

Are you trustworthy, reliable, willing and able? Are you entering this area of work for the right reasons and not just because no qualifications are required? Your role will involve a range of tasks and you will be responsible for the safety and well-being of your potentially vulnerable employer. And you will be valued and respected for doing an excellent job.

But if your attitude to care work is casual and indifferent, and you don’t see a problem with letting us down at short notice, then maybe this is not the job for you.

What do you think about Carrie’s letter? Do you find it a struggle to recruit PAs? Comment below to share your views.


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