How to keep good PCAs around

Can’t Seem to Keep a Good PCA Around

Having PCAs in your home is a lot like going to school each day. You have a schedule you need to keep track of just like classes, and it can be quite exhausting. I’ve recently discovered this more and more over the last five years of living with paralysis. I’m not sure why, but the longer I’m paralyzed, the less patience I have for these goof balls.

When I was first paralyzed, I was only 14, and the way I interact with PCAs has dramatically changed over the years. Perhaps this is why it now seems so difficult. I keep comparing back to an easier time. When I was 14, I was green…so green. I let my PCAs tell me what to do, they were the ones in charge, so yeah, it was easy for everything to work out.

I was quite clueless back then, but that’s to be expected. I had no idea what was in store for me – a future full of different people coming in and out of my life. The disappointments become so many that you become completely disillusioned with a whole PCA world. That is the last thing I wanted to ever happen. Staying perpetually positive however is impossible when you’ve been dealing what I’ve been dealing with. ug.

I’ve had hundreds of PCAs in these 22 years. I’m not proud of this number but it seems finding good people is about as rare as coming across a diamond in the middle of Kansas. Some don’t stay because the job is more work than they realize, others hurt their backs or have a kid, while others will move away or get another job. I’ve seen or heard of nearly everything.

But I have had a handful of great people stay around for many years. One particular person has been working for me for the last three years, and that is a record. We get along so well because we had a lot in common, which is huge when looking for a PCA. I do know of a quadriplegic who has had the same PCA since her injury, and that was over 24 years ago.

Unfortunately, I’ve never had this kind of grand PCA luck. To have had a PCA work for over two decades seems completely unreal. Most people look at a PCA job as a transition job, not something they want to do for the rest of their lives. This lady is quite lucky; extremely so. I am a bit jealous if you can’t tell ;)

As it stands I currently have four permanent PCAs, but recently I’ve had to hire and fire people for two shifts more than twice in the last two months. This is a record. But when a PCA calls last minute because she doesn’t have child care more than four times in a month, something needs to be done, and I usually just let them go.

Last month for example, a new PCA, right after her first shift, texted me at 1am, letting me know she wouldn’t be able to get me out of bed in the morning because she forgot she had a school appointment for her kid. Having an unorganized schedule and last minute cancellations for nonemergency reasons nearly always end up in as a firing in my world. How about you?

When you finally find a great PCA, oh man please hold onto them tight. Treat them well, with respect and courtesy, because good people do not come round often. And remember, if you go through people like me, humanity is just like this. It can’t be helped, and know you’re not doing anything wrong. You just need to search a little longer and put on your “patience hat.” The right person is out there.

How do you find a good PCA?

Photo courtesy of Flickr

2 replies
  1. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    This is an ongoing issue for my 27 year old son who is paralyzed and ventilator dependent. We have been lucky in that we had a few pcas who ended up becoming RNs and staying on with us as Home Care nurses. However, the applicants for our PCA position have been people who do not know the first thing about caregiving and they do not want to know. They see the PCA job as a non-important job where they can get paid to do nothing.

  2. Patrick Evans
    Patrick Evans says:

    Thank you for posting this on PCAs. I have been think about hiring a PCA to help me with a few chores around the house as my health is on the downcline. I am 57 and paralyzed from the waits down. I was able to do my wash, but now that has become difficult for me. I have a CNA to help me shower and a nurse to attend to my wounds. But that both only come out 2 and 3 times a week and neither of them are there to help with my daily routine. I really don’t need a 24-7 PCA, but helping with wash, taking out my trash and other small duties. I don’t even know where to start looking for a PCA? Or even if I would qulitify with my insurance (Medicare) to allow me to have a PCA. So, after all that said. What kind of questions would I as a PCA to see if they will stick around, if they are really motivated to do whats asked. ETC when I interview them> Thank you – Pat

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