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The Respect I Need When Hiring New Personal Care Assistants

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Whether you’re a fan of Erasure or Wheatus (personally I quite like both), you’ll know that all we want sometimes is a little respect from one human being to another.

It’s been a bit of a year for me, employment wise. I’ve had a lot of let down. And when I say employment I mean as in I am a boss.

I have the sort of disability that means I need an assistant to “assist” me in everything I do. Now I can use an agency to supply me with this support, but for some reason I decided to employ my assistants myself. I’m not totally ridiculous, my thinking is that I’d like to have a say in who I spend a huge chunk of my day to day life with.

It’s hard enough having to rely on an assistant for everything you do. But finding a suitable one can be quite a challenge! I have to spend a large amount of time with these people. Every hour bar the ones I’m asleep, and even then they are usually in the room next door. I’ve had PAs say to me, “Do you know I probably spend more one to one hours with you than I do my partner!” Which is probably true. They say don’t get involved, don’t get too close, I shouldn’t know about my employees’ family and they shouldn’t know about me. But is that practical? They’re not some special agent keeping every factor of their job/life a secret. We are bound to talk about our lives outside of the PA / employer relationship. And they are bound to talk about work at home. I know more about my PAs than I do much of my family. I know their quirks, what they like to eat, what they’re having for dinner tonight, I know their likes, their dislikes, their interests.

My fussiness in employing my own PAs means that I have inadvertently become a boss. I have no training in running a business or employing staff; I studied art for goodness sake. Nobody would ever employ me to manage their business and their staff. Yet that is what I do almost every day of my life.

I run a small business of people keeping me alive, sane (mostly), and independent. And it’s all worth it when I do find Miss Right; I have some brilliant assistants.

Recruit, organize, annual leave, sick, risk assessment, timesheets, pension, disciplinary procedure are all common language to me. I am currently in the process of recruiting a new PA, which means job adverts, interviews and the like. Sometimes that flows nicely, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I wonder where all the unemployed people that I hear exist actually are!

And sometimes people just baffle me.

It starts with me writing an advert; then interested folk contact me. Some just reply informing me they are interested in the job and I have to reply asking to hear more about them. Sometime they answer. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they then say loads about themselves, but “oh I can’t drive,” or “oh I can’t work out of school hours” or “oh, I’m only free Wednesdays if that’s any help.” (Not really, no it isn’t.) They do this even when the advert clearly states what is required. Some send a CV (resume). Some don’t. Some find other jobs the day I’m meant to meet them. All in all I contact say 20 people that week, but end up meeting four. But then two don’t come, or they come and are totally not right for the job.

Back to the subject of respect (as you’re probably wondering where my ingenious title came from!) I organized two interviews one evening last week and the first of them never turned up. A no-show. This isn’t the first “no-show” of my career as a boss; maybe that justifies this oncoming rant a little more.

So maybe I wasn’t going anywhere; maybe I was just going to sit and watch Netflix all night. But that’s not the point. I have every right to do that. But people could show a little more respect. It’s not an easy task, advertising and interviewing your own assistants.

If you are applying for a job or going to an interview, whatever the position or circumstances, please take into account the person at the other end of the situation. The person trying to employ. It’s not easy, for any business I imagine, but especially when you’re somebody like me. It takes a lot of work and time. I have to make sure I’m free, my house is free, my Mum is available (as she lives here), and I get anxious that I need to find Miss Right. I need to make sure I ask the right questions and choose the right applicant, somebody I’m going to spend hours of my life with.

I’m on edge, want to get comfy, relax, but there you are keeping us waiting in the unknown. Will she come? How late is acceptable? How late means not coming at all?

When you just don’t turn up, I get frustrated; I get annoyed, angry even. I’m a person you are letting down, a person you don’t know yet, but a person you have so little respect for that you don’t even consider messaging me to say you’ve changed your mind or something has come up. I contact you worrying maybe something has happened, but then I see you’ve read my message and fume even more that you don’t have the decency to reply. You probably feel bad, embarrassed, ashamed. I hope you do!

I really don’t get it. Tell me you’ve changed your mind; fair enough. Got another job; fine. Something came up; life happens. But just have the decency to contact me.

People should be thoughtful and compassionate and considerate to their fellow humans. Most of us are just trying to get by, doing what we must to survive with an aim of being content. Well I am.

Is there any respect left?

Follow this journey on Wheelescapades.

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Getty image by Tadamichi.

Originally published: February 6, 2018
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