Hiring the Ideal PCA to Meet Your Needs
In my professional life working in the disability field, I was trained to view things from a strengths-based approach. With this approach, the focus is on a person’s abilities and strengths, rather than weaknesses. This came naturally to me because I’ve always been a very empathetic person, always striving to focus on solutions rather than dwelling solely on problems. I’m a big believer in using the situations presented to build people up by providing support and resources needed to address the issues.
I use the same approach when hiring Personal Care Attendants (PCAs). Over my 30+ years of experience hiring and managing PCAs, some of the processes have changed, but the core tenants remain the same: respect, caring, patience, and understanding. If you find someone meeting those criteria (as well as the willingness to learn the duties/responsibilities of the job), you are golden.
During my early years in the PCA hiring process, I relied heavily on PCA lists and newspaper ads to advertise. More recently with the invention of the Internet, the focus is more on job search websites like indeed.com or handshake.com just to name a few. It is still possible to put an ad in the newspaper but those are costing more these days and they also end up putting the ads online as well anyway. So I would rather find a job search website that works for me with not as many restrictions. For me, indeed.com is the easiest for placing job ads because it doesn’t require me to sign up with a company, but as an individual, and I can choose to sponsor the ad or not. When it comes to the more-challenging-to-cover early morning and weekend shifts, I tend to sponsor the ads so I have a bigger pool of people to interview from.
To place the ad, follow the prompts from the website you choose and input all of the important information. Be as upfront as possible with details of the job, including requirements and what will be involved. Be aware that even though you have put all of the necessary details in the ad, candidates will still often ask questions about the job that makes you wonder if they even read the ad or not. Patience is key here.
Within 24 hours of posting your online ad, candidates will begin responding. Look through the resumes provided to find candidates that closely match your requirements. Most job sites offer several options for contacting candidates and it is ultimately your choice of how to contact them, either by phone, text, or email. Sometimes for me, texting is easier because if I talk too long my voice begins to strain and I can’t get my words out before the candidate hangs up thinking it’s a prank caller. In the text, I often remind the candidates of which ad they responded to and the hours needed. I also let them know the location. They will respond back if still interested in the position and set up an interview. Hint: if the candidate doesn’t show up for or repeatedly reschedules the interview, more times than not, it’s a good indication of how reliable they will be once they have the job.
The interview is the perfect opportunity to meet the candidate where both of you can decide together if they are the best fit to meet your needs. For me, the ideal candidate is not only able to do the job but is ultimately the best fit for my personality. Those who know me understand that I am generally an easy-going person. I really enjoy talking to people and getting to know them. I believe developing a positive rapport is one of the keys to a successful relationship with your PCA. PCA’s often have to help with very personal daily activities, so it’s essential for both of you to be comfortable. This also creates opportunities for open dialogue/communication and problem-solving when issues do come up.
The ideal candidate also needs to understand that regardless of how much experience they may bring to the role, you are an individual and should be treated as such. Each person's individual needs and routine should be taken into account as the PCA completes the required duties. I’ve had PCAs come to me with many years of experience in the field while taking the approach that they already know what I need even while I’m attempting to train them on my routine and what works best for me. I try not to let the situations get to me and focus on the strengths of the individual by finding areas of my routine I feel comfortable letting them do without micromanaging. Once the new PCA has completed the basics of my routine for 2 to 3 days, I usually begin allowing them to start doing the majority of tasks on their own. There will always be certain things that will change like choosing my outfit for the day or what meal I want to eat and even after my PCAs know my routine, I have to catch myself from reminding them of minute details. I realize that I should not be hard on myself about giving reminders because not only am I frequently having to train people, but it's also important for me to remain an active part of the process as it is all about having control over my life.
Once you decide which candidates are the best fit for your needs, invite them for a second interview. The second interview is an opportunity to ask any lingering questions and complete the required paperwork once they accept the position. Hint: for the first couple of weeks, it is a good idea to have a backup plan in place in case the PCA does not show up for work. The more shifts they complete, the greater level of trust that can be established between you and the PCA.
Now it's your turn… What questions do you believe would be important to ask a potential PCA during the interview? What advice would you give others searching for PCA to hire? Join me, as I continue my journey toward Living a Princess Life!
If you’re interested in learning more about consumer-directed services, as part of your journey toward independence, please contact Access Personal Care at 816-822-7432.