What is a Personal Assistant?
A Personal Assistant (PA) provides the support necessary for a student with a disability (SWD) to live independently. The person with a disability recruits, interviews, hires, trains, pays and when necessary fires his/her own assistants.
Personal Assistance services can include activities such as bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring between bed and wheelchair or wheelchair and car. Other forms of assistance involve light housekeeping, shopping, laundry and other errands.
Personal Assistants should have a willingness to learn and perform daily tasks for individuals with disabilities. Dependability, flexibility and sensitivity are among the most important qualities of a good personal assistant.
General Tips and Suggestions
- Be sure to sign an employee agreement before you start assisting the SWD.
- Make certain that you are aware of your duties prior to the start of your job and ensure that you are certain of your schedule.
- Before you begin assisting the SWD, be certain that you are willing to commit the time and punctuality necessary to be successful at this job.
- Be honest with yourself and with the SWD whom you are assisting – talking openly about concerns will be likely to settle any conflict before it arises.
- Ask questions if you are unsure about how to do something – it is better to ask then risk the safety of the SWD.
- Get the contact information of the student’s other PA’s in case you are unable to work on a scheduled day.
- Keep track of your hours and sign off on them daily in the presence of the student whom you are assisting.
- If there is some disagreement regarding your work schedule or payment, talk to the SWD whom you are assisting. If additional assistance is necessary, please contact the CSD at 486-2020.
- If any other problems arise, such as being given more responsibility than previously agreed upon, talk openly with your employer. If problems still persist, do not hesitate to contact the CSD.
Here at UConn we have a unique service for students with disabilities and their personal assistants. Student Health Services offers guidance and experienced consulting to make things easier. We hope that this service will be taken advantage of to replace the old routine of “learning as you go,” which can be very stressful for both parties. At Student Health Services you get an explanatory demonstration by a registered nurse, nurse practitioner or physical therapist who will be able to guide you. To access this service, call the Student Health Services appointment desk at 486-2719 and make an appointment!
It is often helpful to outline your responsibilities and tasks prior to your appointment so you can get demonstrations specific to the needs of the student you are assisting.