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Assessing Your Needs

This first step, knowing what you need, is probably the most important and deserves a lot of thought. The more we are able to communicate our needs and desires for the kind of care that suits us, the easier it is on everyone. Even an experienced attendant, coming to you after working with someone else, has never done it quite your way and deserves the consideration of your thoughtful approach to this vital first step.

Some of us have lived with our disabilities from birth or early childhood. In the past we may have relied on family members who were familiar with our needs. We may or may not be used to helping others understand how to assist us. Others may have come to our experience of disability more recently. We are still in the process of learning what we need to know about living with a disability. At the same time, we must teach others to help us do things we used to do for ourselves – even such mundane things as brushing our teeth.

The Needs Inventory Worksheet included here is meant to be a springboard to help you think about your care needs. It draws attention to a level of detail that we must be able to communicate in order to direct our PA to do the best job for us. The Self Training Module that is available from VCIL on this topic contains several examples that may appeal to you more and covers this topic more in-depth.

The level of detail you are able to think about when considering your care needs is crucial to your well-being and that of your PA. We take many things for granted but, as they say, “the devil is in the details.”

A peer was very confident about his care needs around his home but was new to going out in the community for various events. When planning for a couple of days away from home, he neglected to think of the different environment; that it might not be as accessible as his own home and that he might therefore require additional assistance. The result was embarrassing for him and put his companions (who were more than happy to help once they knew what was needed) in an awkward situation while they all tried to figure out how to solve the problems. A bit of forethought and a more thorough knowledge of what he required in this new environment would have saved a lot of confusion and considerable time taken away from the more entertaining activities.

We will always face the possibility of not having thought of everything and our innate resourcefulness will be called upon at times, but the fewer times this is necessary, the better for all involved. So take the time you need with this important first step.