Entering the world of managing your Personal Assistance Services is not easy. You are walking into a neighborhood where you have never been before. You have been told it is a great place and will afford you great benefits – and then … you are left on your own. You could eventually find your way around this new terrain, but you might fall into some holes, trip over some unseen rocks or make many wrong turns as you do so. Wouldn’t it be so much better to have a map and some travel resources, especially in this case where the stakes are pretty high? The “neighborhood” you are in involves living with your disability and working with another human being (sometimes several) who will be responsible for looking after your needs at home and perhaps helping you to get to work and participate in your community. The more you know about how to find and keep these important people, the better.
Other people are coming to the same neighborhood from different directions and life experiences. The roadmap they need may be different from yours. Our PA Management Toolkit of self help and training resources is designed with the understanding that everyone’s training and support needs may be different but the goal is the same; people want the information, experience and tools that will help them effectively recruit, hire, supervise and train their own personal care assistants.
While a training program is the best way to begin to develop good management skills, an initial orientation to a whole other way of seeing one’s life can also be of great help. Some of us are just adjusting to our disability and many of us have not yet been employed, much less been an employer. As many of the peers we spoke to in the beginning of this project said, “I didn’t have a clue about what was in store.” You may want to learn more about disability issues and independent living.
So we offer a collection of resources that we call a Toolkit for Hiring and Managing Your Personal Assistance Services (PAS). In addition to books, videos and other self help tools, we developed an introductory “Quickstart Guide” to help individuals recruit and supervise their PAs. The Guide is available on our website (www.vcil.org) or by calling the I-Line, our Information line, at 1-800-639-1522. Many peers said they wished they had had something like this Guide when they first started managing their PA services. We hope you find it helpful.
Some Suggestions for Using This Introduction to the PAS Toolkit
- If you are a reader and like to take your time going through everything right away, by all means do so and enjoy. Many folks, though, find a presentation of this kind a bit much to grasp at once. In that case, we suggest you check the table of contents and resource lists, identifying the items you feel would be particularly useful to you at this point. If you need something you don’t see, use this as a springboard for a conversation with staff at VCIL so they can help you find what you need.
- Use the Toolkit materials to help organize your thoughts, map out the tasks you will need to accomplish and help you set timelines.
- We have found that discussing PAS management issues with others who use attendant care is a great way to gather further information and ideas. Managing your attendant care is an art as well as a set of learned skills and peers are a great source of creative management.
- Check out the websites and links. The Toolkit can be a stepping-stone to expanding how you look at your life and what you are able to do.
- Use the descriptive Bibliography to guide your reading choices.
- We have created a grid of particularly helpful chapters from books in the Toolkit Library. This resource can guide your study.
- Then, use the Quickstart Guide for a mini-course in managing your attendant care.
We hope you will offer your feedback on what we have provided as well your own suggestions on how to make it better.
We hope that this project will also create greater opportunities for users of attendant services to share their stories and experiences with one another and help us build a network of mentors. These mentors would be available to assist new users of PAS to develop their skills as employers. As you grow in your management skills, please consider becoming a mentor for the new guy on the block.