Caregivers and personal assistants:
how to find, hire and manage the people who
(or your loved one!).
By Alfred H. DeGraff, Author-Publisher.
Saratoga Access Publications, Inc.
2002. ISBN: 0-9621106-1-2. 507 pages.
Price US$ 24.95 (CAN$ 37.95) in
most bookstores, online, or by calling 1-800-266-5564.
Saratoga Access Publications, PO
Box 1427, Fort Collins, CO 80522-1427.
Several million Canadians depend
on daily help from family caregivers or paid personal assistants or both.
Help recipients include patients being discharged early from hospital,
people with lifelong disabilities, and seniors undergoing the increasing
limitations of aging. In the United States, the National Family Caregivers
Association estimates that 26 per cent of adult Americans provided caregiver
services to loved ones within the last 12 months. A similar proportion
here would mean that at least 5 million family caregivers in Canada.
Caregivers and Personal Assistants
is billed as “a bible for people who must depend on others to get through
the day.” We highly recommend the book to all people with disabilities
(and their agents) who need others to help with their daily personal needs
and to family caregivers who need to hire paid help because they are becoming
chronically tired and heading for depression. Its advice is vital for people
with useful also for health care facilities and agencies that always need
more hired help. Its lessons are also vital for supporting people with
developmental disabilities though their needs are not explicitly discussed.
Alfred H. “Skip” DeGraff is uniquely
qualified to provide this advice. For over 30 years a tetraplegic (since
a diving injury at 18), he uses motorized wheelchair mobility and has been
dependent each day on help providers. While completing graduate school
and pursuing professional careers, he has personally employed over 350
personal assistants (PAs) after interviewing over 1,500 applicants.
The author learned about recruiting,
hiring and managing help providers in various settings, including:
his mother’s home (using family caregivers);
a local community college (using fellow
three residential university campuses
(by hiring dormitory room-mates as live-in student aides);
large urban apartment complexes while
pursuing careers (by recruiting live-in roommates to provide help in exchange
for their room and utilities);
extensive business and vacation travel
by car and air (by using help from aides, friend and caregiver-relatives
in exchange for their transportation, room and board);
inpatient hospital stays (instructing
and managing physicians and nursing staff for routine disability-related
needs and accepting their instruction and care for the new, temporary acute
his private home, while married, by
balancing help from his caregiver-wife and for salaried outsiders;
his private home, before and after marriage,
by combining live-in and salaried help
DeGraff has shared his management
strategies widely through seminars, courses, and publications. He has provided
one-on-one counseling to help recipients, family caregivers, and paid providers.
He has also taught formal 16-week courses on PA management and hosted magazine
columns. This experience is reflected in the book’s crisp style and clear
presentation. There are many memorable examples and strategies. Who could
forget RISHTMP—the cyclical process you go through with each new aide or
group of aides (recruiting, interviewing, screening, hiring, training,
managing, and parting ways)?
The scope, style and layout of Caregivers
and Personal Assistants are finely honed, as this is third and completely
revised edition of a book on this topic first published in 1978. In addition,
DeGraff invites readers to subscribe to a free e-newsletter at saratoga-publications.com
Amid all the detailed step-by-step
strategies, the reader receives powerful messages about the importance
of each help recipient’s “right to maintain control over your own lifestyle
and daily schedule—your quality of life. You enjoy and hold sacred the
freedom of doing what you wish, when you wish. You recognize that your
disability has imposed some limitations on this freedom; however, you strive
each day to enjoy life to its fullest-to seize the day (carpe diem).” (p.19).
A valuable (though brief) concluding section discusses the need to balance
and co-ordinate the rights of help recipients, help providers and family
caregivers, so that relationships can be harmonious and reciprocal.
Oultline of Chapters:
Why This Reference is Important to You: Your Freedom and Control
Definitions of Titles and Terms Used in This Reference
Two Types of Assistance Providers:
-Unpaid caregivers, daycare and respite providers, and volunteers
-Paid aides and personal assistants (PAs)
How to Use This Reference
Your Quick Start Guide: Five Topics to Get You Going Today!
Part I Identifying Your Options
Beyond Family Caregivers: Options and Settings for Finding Outside Assistance
Volunteer Help: Don’t Wear Out Your Friendships
Live-In Aides, and Your Other Residence Options
Settings Where You Use Help
Part II Three Ten-Step Plans for
Getting the Help You Need
Ten Steps to Getting All or Some of Your Help from Family Caregivers
Ten Steps to Getting All or Some of Your Help from Agency-Employed Aides
Ten Steps to Getting All or Some of Your Help from Personally Employed
Part III More Topics on Getting
the Help You Need
Where and How to Advertise for Your Own PAs
Initial Training and Ongoing Management of Aides and PAs
Recognizing and Resolving Your PA Problems, or Parting Ways
Part IV Taking Control of Your Help
When It Is, and Is Not, Okay to Ask for Help
Getting It Done—Your Way
Defining and Describing Your Help Needs
Say It, Ask for It, and Act—Assertively!
Part V Strategies for Your Being
A Good Manager
Your Qualities and Strategies as a Good PA Manager
Dividing Your Needs, and Assigning Work Shifts, Among Several PAs
Setting Up Your Efficient Work Areas, and Maintaining Adequate Supplies
Your Personal Coping with, and Reacting to, PA Failures
Part VI The Costs of Your Paid Help
Your Costs of Recruiting, Training, and Keeping PAs Happy
Paying Your Salaries: Cash, Non-cash, or Both
U.S. Tax Obligations, Deductions, and Publications for PA Employers
Part VII “I Understand How You Feel”
Heard from You, as a Recipient, Family Caregiver, or Paid Provider
A Bill of Rights for You, as a Help Recipient, Caregiver, or Paid Provider
Your Personal Concerns, as a Help Recipient
Your Personal Concerns, as a Family Caregiver
Your Personal Concerns, as a Paid Help Provider,
plus Ten Reasons Why PAs Quit Their Jobs, and Ten Reasons Why PAs Are Fired
Part VIII Parting Advice for You
When You or Your Help Provider Has—or Might Have—AIDS
Medical Monitoring Services—Your Push-Button Lifesaver
Your Discretion, Privacy, and Confidentiality
Your Educational Role and Objective:
To Direct Some;
To Teach, Instruct, and Train Most; and
To Educate a Select Few
Appendices (mainly specific to the
For more information about this book:
Saratoga Access Publications, PO
Box 1427, Fort Collins, CO 80522-1427.
Phone 970.484.5595 Fax 970.484.5531;
Web site: saratoga-publications.com
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