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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsWinding-up. Personal assistance is empowering and flexible, and different from other forms of care but we hope we have shown it still involves human relationships, emotions, values and all the complexity which this implies. there are different kinds of person assistance relationship, and neither in our research, nor in any other literature, can we find a single ideal, perfect way of handling the relationship. What this means is that people have different expectations of what the relationship should look like, and how you should feel about the person you're working with. Our recommendation is that people should be as explicit as possible about what they're looking for. They should discuss roles, boundaries, relationship upfront so there is no misunderstanding.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 secondsSome of the exercises in this training are designed to make you think a bit more about what matters to you and where your red lines are. It might be worth you thinking again about what kind of PA relationship you're looking for - has it changed as a result of this training course? Are you clearer about what might work for you? People change, relationships develop over time. Often it's best to start with a more formal relationship and then let things become more relaxed over time, until you reach a balance you are comfortable with. But it's still important to discuss how things are for the other person, who may be less comfortable with the situation than you are.

Skip to 1 minute and 36 secondsFor example, a PA may feel confused at the lack of clear direction given to them. An employer may feel frustrated that his, or her, lack of control over the assistance that's provided. Time also makes people more effective in their roles as employers and workers. Personal assistants can be difficult, particularly if you're employing somebody for the first time. The disabled person may be learning all sorts of new skills, perhaps as an administrator but also as a manager of another human being. Equally, the PA may be learning to work in a very different way, especially if they have previous experience of working in a less empowering way, in more traditional care roles. Everyone makes mistakes along the way.

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 secondsOur research has shown that people become more accomplished and successful over time, as they work out strategies and ways of being with each other. In other countries, different PA relationships have been achieved with different structures. For example, in Norway, disabled people are often the manager of their PA, while the PA is employed by a cooperative, or by the local authority. This frees up the relationship from the employment aspects, while still retaining control by the disabled person. In Sweden, there's a system of advocacy and service guaranteeing, which enables people with intellectual disabilities to be supported by personal assistants, while external advocates ensure the quality and safeguarding aspects.

Skip to 3 minutes and 10 secondsThe goal of this training has been to ensure that people make fewer mistakes, that they are not discouraged from being employers, or being workers, that they understand the PA model better, and that they find a personally successful way of making assistance work for them. The work that the personal assistant does has the potential to transform lives and enrich our society. When properly resourced and supported, the PA model is a radical and exciting way of enabling disabled people to take control over their own lives, avoid dependency, achieve independent living and win their rights as equal citizens.

Conclusion

Personal assistance is empowering and flexible and different from other forms of care. But we hope we have shown that it still involves human relationships, emotions, values and all the complexity which this implies.

There are different kinds of personal assistance relationships, and neither in our research nor in any other literature can we find a single, ideal, perfect way of handling the relationship. What this means is that people have different expectations of what the relationship should look like, and how you should feel about the person you are working with.

Our recommendation is that people should be as explicit as possible about what they are looking for. They should discuss roles, boundaries, relationship upfront, so there is no misunderstanding. Some of the exercises in this training are designed to make you think a bit more about what matters to you, and where your red lines are.

It might be worth you thinking again about what PA relationship you are looking for.

Has it changed, as a result of this training course? Are you clearer about what works for you? People change – relationships develop over time. Often, it’s best to start more formal, and then let things become informal over time. But it’s still important to discuss how things are for the other person, who may be less comfortable with the situation than you are. For example, a PA worker may feel confused at the lack of clear direction given to them; a PA employer may feel frustrated at his or her lack of control over the assistance that is provided.

Time also makes people more effective in their roles as employers and workers. Personal assistance can be difficult, particularly if you are employing somebody for the first time. The disabled person will be learning all sorts of new skills, as an administrator, but also as a manager of another human being. Equally, the worker will be learning to work in a very different way to other parts of the care sector. Everyone makes some mistakes along the way. Our research has shown that people become more accomplished and successful over time, as they work out strategies and ways of being with each other.

In other countries, different PA relationships have been achieved with different structures. For example, in Norway, disabled people are often the manager of their PA, whereas the PA is employed by a cooperative or by the local authority. This frees up the relationship from the employment aspects, while still retaining control by the disabled person. In Sweden, there is a system of advocacy which enables people with intellectual disabilities to be supported by personal assistants, while external advocates ensure the quality and safe-guarding aspects.

The goal of this training has been to ensure that people make fewer mistakes; that they are not discouraged from being employers, or being workers; that they understand the PA model better, and they find a personally successful way of operating personal assistance. The work that the personal assistant does has the potential to transform lives and enrich our society. We firmly believe that the PA model is a radical and exciting way of supporting disabled people in the community, which avoids dependency, and ensures independent living.

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This video is from the free online course:

The Role of Personal Assistants in Disability Support

UEA (University of East Anglia)

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