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The Disability Union

Hidden Truths About Managing a PCA Team

Hidden Truths About Managing a PCA Team

Requiring help to live your daily life is something loads of people with disabilities are familiar with.  There’s something unique about it, and the lessons that go along with it are certainly one of a kind. Since going off to college and having to rely on help other than my family, I’ve noticed several truths about hiring a PCA, training them, and managing a team.  In the past, we talked about hiring new PCAs. In this blog, I thought it would be fun to share some of the hidden truths about managing them!

Hiring Never Stops

Unfortunately, the position of PCA seems to have a lot of turnover.  The longest I’ve had a PCA is 3 years, but that was because we both went to the same university.  Outside of that, it was less than a year-and-a-half. Though there are anomalies, the unfortunate thing is that because of various reasons, PCAs just don’t last very long.  Even when you have a fully-staffed team, you’re always looking for another person. You never know if someone is going to quit unexpectedly, or need some extended time off.

Your Gut is Usually Right When Hiring

I’ve held several interviews where I hired a person I wasn’t enthusiastic about, simply because I needed someone.  Whenever I’ve done this, something happens and the PCA doesn’t last. It’s for the better. Trying to force it to work will just lead to more work and headaches and stress that neither of you need.  You’ll end up wasting time you could have used finding the right fit.  

Now this isn’t to say don’t give someone a chance based on a bad first impression.  One of my best PCAs was very quiet and timid during her interview, but she was one of my best.  If I had decided not to hire her because she barely talked at first, I would have missed out on one of the hardest working PCAs I’ve had.

You’re Going to Repeat Yourself A Lot

Since you’re never going to stop hiring, you’re never going to stop training.  I’ve gotten really good at explaining my morning routine, for example. Throw in multiple PCAs, you might end up repeating yourself 15+ times a day, on a good day.  I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing, necessarily, but I do find it funny when I repeat things to the same person because I forgot who I’ve told.

A Good PCA Rarely Lasts Long

Unfortunately, that model PCA doesn’t stick around.  In my experience, these PCAs are using the job as a temporary gig.  Usually, it’s because they’re in nursing school, or a higher-paying job gets offered to them.  The good news here is that, if they’re in nursing school at least, they probably know someone else who is looking for work.  Nursing schools are a never-ending supply of potential PCA’s.

You Become Great at Making Lists and Organization

I’m the first to admit that I could be more organized.  But I shudder to think about how bad I could have been if not forced to.  When you have a team of people who work for you, it’s important to be on top of things.  For my PCAs, I need to know where certain things are so I can tell them where to look, for example.  I usually keep a list of things I need done (mopping, vacuuming, laundry) so I don’t forget to have a PCA do it when they’re here.  This might sound a bit excessive, but the more organized I keep my life the less stress I put me and my PCAs under. Things just go a lot smoother.

You’ll Get Lots of Leadership Experience

Effectively, you are a manager.  You set the schedules. You assign tasks.  You handle disputes. You probably even handle payroll.  These are all things that qualify as leadership experience.  Why not put this on your resume? These skills will transfer over.

You’re Not Alone

What keeps me going when I’m frustrated with my PCA situation is that I’m not the only one going through it.  I’ve got a group of people that I’ve met online who require the same kind of help and have the same experiences.  Not only are they a great group to commiserate with when I’m frustrated, but they’re idea generators. I’ve gotten so many good tips and tricks for hiring and training PCAs from Facebook groups.  People with similar life experiences as me know what I’m going through. When I get excited about a new hire going well, they get excited in a way my other friends can’t relate to. It’s sappy, but remembering these people have my back keeps me determined to push through any PCA frustrations I may have.

And that’s only a few truths you might not have known about managing a PCA team!  Did you learn something new? If you use PCAs? Do you agree? Disagree? Did I miss something?  Comment below!

Hidden Truths About Managing a PCA Team

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