A friend in need is a friend indeed
When you think of the term ‘Personal Assistant’. What are your first thoughts? – ‘She’s a bit fancy, ok for some to be rolling around with PA wish I could afford one, I would save so much time!
I was Watching the film ‘The Devil wears Prada’ and found myself giggling away, not because parts of the film are funny, but because It occurred to me that all the times I’ve used the term ‘my PA’, people automatically assume that I meant it in a conventional way.
But, what would you think if I told you that many disabled people, myself included, have personal assistants. Shocked?
I use the term ‘personal assistant’, or PA, to describe the person who assists me with daily living, yet when I use the term I’m often met with bewildered faces or laughter. However, when most non-disabled people hear the term ‘carer’, they immediately put you into that stereotypical box and assume you are vulnerable.
So why complicate matters? Why choose one term over the other? – Very simple not only do I prefer the term PA but also the power of language makes a huge difference. It can impact, not only how I feel and how others perceive me but also my PA.
Personal assistance is a model of support that was pioneered by the Disability Rights community in the 1970s.
A relationship with a PA is very different from a normal colleague in the sense that they are required to perform intimate tasks, therefore maintaining boundaries and professional distance.
It’s Inevitable that working closely with someone will lead to friendships. After all, we spend a large proportion of our time with each other at work, that your bound to see the best and worst. It’s finding that right balance of knowing when to be professional as well as building a friendship.
Rather than depending fully on my husband still for 24-hour support taking a little stress and pressure off of him but also our marriage or waiting at home for the local authority carers to come on their rounds, which can be very restricting – having personal assistance means that someone receives direct payments from a local authority fund, so individuals can employ their support worker.
Is it really that important? Yes, because it stops disabled people from being at the ‘mercy’ of others or feeling like a burden. Direct payments have given me more control over my life the feeling of Independence and freedom, including the ability to create a schedule that works best for me. I am an employer and my PA’s employees. I deal with everything from payslips, tax, holiday cover and shifts.
I don’t have to feel like I’m grateful or that I’m a burden, as I’m contributing to society by creating two jobs. It’s very liberating; I feel very empowered.
The beginning of my journey with having PA’s it wasn’t the best start I found it hugely stressful with people taking advantage, late or not turning up at all which is unprofessional and disrespectful – However, saying that when you find the right fit in PA’s. which thankfully I have now it can be very fulfilling, enjoyable and I appreciate the camaraderie that these relationships bring to my life.
Do you have a PA or carer? Or are you a PA or carer for someone else? What is your relationship with them? Can this relationship also be a friendship and how does that work?
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