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Overall Advice

Wrapping up the types of personal assistant
PA picking nose at a meeting.
© University of East Anglia

As a rule of thumb, start business-like, and let things become more relaxed – but not too relaxed – over time

It can be a difficult balancing act: friendliness vs formality, closeness vs distance, flexibility vs stability. Even very experienced PA employers have found it demanding.

Confidentiality runs both ways, and it is important for PAs privacy to be respected.

Sometimes a disabled employer you will want their PA to sit in the background and not interact with friends or family members. Other times, the same employer may want to be more chatty. It helps if employers are able to give clear signals, so that workers know what is expected of them at different times, and so they are not confused or do not over-step the line.

One danger area is working with PAs, or making friends with the person you work with. If you are friends, it make be more difficult for a disabled employer to exert control or discipline over their PA. In the second case, while it is inevitable and positive to be friendly, many people draw a distinction between their own friends, and the people they work with. If disabled employers and their PAs are friends, it can become difficult for the employer to give exact instructions. It can also be hard for a PA to maintain high standards when working in a relaxed environment. Another problem here is that all personal assistants leave in the end. If PA relationship are too close, it may feel like a bereavement or a relationship break-up when this happens.

© University of East Anglia
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The Role of Personal Assistants in Disability Support

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