PA and disabled person in front of a cinema.

Empathy Conclusions

Just as in any working relationship, we can’t expect personal assistance relationships to run smoothly all of the time. We’ll talk later about reconciling differences and mediation, when it’s needed.

A key principle is to respect difference – respect the personality and values of other people. Be prepared to accommodate difference, whether in personality, culture or lifestyle.

A key way to avoid conflict is to get the right ‘match’ in the first place. This means:

  • Vetting at the beginning of the PA role – understand your own expectations, values, and limitations; make these explicit; ask your potential worker or employer to do the same; seek to work with those with whom you have affinity.

  • Probation’ – a probationary period may help to 1) avoid practical conflict i.e. ‘make sure they can do the job’; and 2) avoid personal conflict ‘make sure we get on’.

Personal differences are more important the closer the relationship is. For a ‘staff’ type relationship, there is considerable privacy, and you are less likely to have a clash. When people become more friendly, they share more of their lives, and the differences between their values can become evident.

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This article is from the free online course:

The Role of Personal Assistants in Disability Support

UEA (University of East Anglia)