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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsConcluding thoughts. It is important to remember that the PA relationship is time limited. If people are too close, it will inevitably be painful when it ends. Retaining some distance and formality helps maintain boundaries and avoid confusion. Like all relationships, if you spend too much time together, people become irritated. Building in time apart, or space, is important to sustaining the relationship over the longer term. A long series of regular shifts, without a break may be difficult for personal assistant and the employer. Many disabled people organise things so that there's a separate PA room, where the PA can have privacy and rest when she, or he, is not required. The PA room may be off-limits to the disabled employer.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 secondsSome of our disabled informants, employed multiple PAs, ensuring that each work a similar number of hours. This means there's not so much pressure on each worker. It also means there's more likely to be cover when someone is on holiday, or is ill. One person talked about the different interests and skills for their PAs. She had a different worker for each day of the week ,and with one she did shopping, with another she did social events, whilst another was best for driving, cleaning, so on. It may be helpful to have regular reviews of the working relationship, as well as the day-to-day practical aspects.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 secondsEmployer and PA should ask - is there anything either us are doing which is annoying, or blurring boundaries? Often PAs have no one to talk to, in confidence, about their work. They may not know other PAs, and even if they do, it's often inappropriate to talk about confidential issues with other PAs. One solution may be to arrange regular supervision from a third party, or alternatively a PA support group, so that PAs can come together to share their feelings and experiences. These arrangements are best made by disabled people's organisations, or other intermediate bodies. Similarly, an employer may find it helpful to get support from an outsider, if they feel a situation is getting difficult, or complicated.

Skip to 2 minutes and 8 secondsA parent, friend, counsellor, or mediator may be a good third party. Disabled people's organisations may be able to help mediate. And see the sources of support signposted in the final session of this course.

Concluding Thoughts

It is important to remember that the PA relationship is time-limited: if people are too close, it will inevitably be painful when it ends. Retaining some distance and formality helps maintain boundaries and avoid confusion.

Like all relationships, if you spend too much time together, people become irritated. Building in time apart or space is important to sustaining the relationship over the longer term. A long series of regular shifts without a break may be difficult for personal assistant, and the employer. Many disabled people organise things so that there is a separate PA room, where the PA can have privacy and rest when she or he is not required. The PA room may be off limits to the disabled employer.

Some of our disabled informants employed multiple PAs, ensuring that each work a similar number of hours. This means that there is not so much pressure on each worker. It also means there is more likely to be alternate, when someone is on holiday or Is ill. One person talked about the different interests and skills of her PAs. She had a different worker for each day of the week, and with one she did shopping, with another she did social events, whilst another was best for driving, cleaning etc.

It may be helpful to have regular reviews of the working relationship, not just the practicalities of tasks. Employer and PA should ask: is there anything either of us are doing which is annoying or breaking/blurring boundaries?

Often, PAs have no one to talk to, in confidence, about their work. They may not know other PAs. One solution may be to arrange regular supervision, from a third party. Or alternatively, a PA support group, so that PAs can come together to share their feelings and experiences. These arrangements are best made by disabled people’s organisations or other intermediate bodies. Similarly, a disabled employer may find it helpful to get support from an outsider, if they feel the situation is getting difficult or complicated. A parent, friend, counsellor or mediator may be a good third party

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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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