Training a personal aide takes time. Take it easy and go slow. It is best to try not to plan a full schedule while looking for and training new attendants. Remind yourself that finding an attendant isn’t an easy process to work through, so try to cut yourself a little slack, and allow more time to do what must be done.

Here are some guidelines to follow when training your new caregiver:

  • Be consistent. Concentrate on your duty list and develop an effective schedule. Early on, I used a giant calendar on the wall with a dry-erase marker on a dangling string next to it so that everyone in the house was aware of what was happening each day. Currently, I use a big desktop organizer that I can write on. Try one of these methods or create your own way to get organized.
  • Learn to communicate well. It is vital that you communicate your needs! Start off by doing things the right way from Day One. I try not to assume anything. My attendant is an extension of my being and is not there to just to “take care of me.” Say what you want in a sincere way because no one likes to be yelled at or belittled.
  • Learn from each other. Again: Say what you want, but also listen to your attendant. New attendants can bring in new ideas. I might like hearing about things of which I have little or no knowledge. We can all learn from each other, so keep an open mind.
  • Learn to manage conflict. If you have a particular way of doing something, and an attendant feels it could be done another way, discuss this with him and work through it. But, if your aide neglects you and your requests, replace the attendant as soon as possible.
  • Control your situation. The bottom line is you are in control of your body, your household, and how you want things done. Again, welcome suggestions from your attendants. Many of my attendants have come to work with some great ideas. But when it comes down to it, you need certain things to be done certain ways. If you need to, remind your aide that your home is their work place.
  • Assess personality types. If everyone had the same personality, the world would be a pretty boring and predictable place. There are two very general types of people, Type A (extroverts) and Type B (introverts). All of us are a combination and have characteristics of both types, but we may lean more toward one or the other. I am a Type A, for the most part. The majority of my attendants have been stronger B’s but with some A in most of them. I have had a few attendants who were strong A’s. This can be a difficult situation. As long as I have the final decision, I can get a lot accomplished with a Type A attendant. Type B personalities make wonderful attendants. They may move at a slower pace, but they are often people who are patient and adhere to a step-by-step routine process. They may be better listeners and be more nurturing.
  • Keep time sheets. To keep track of the number of hours your attendants work, prepare a calendar for each shift each month and put them on clipboards that hang on a wall or that can be placed on a table or counter in an undisturbed location. Each day my attendants sign in and out. In this way, we both know what hours have been worked. I use the calendars to call in hours to the payroll company and retain them for a year in case of any discrepancies.

Many combinations of traits and personalities make people as diverse as they are. I have had to sift through humanity to find the combinations that work for me and my situation.

I believe I have talked to, interviewed, called references on, or hired over 400 women since my move to independent living. I have been very fortunate in securing many wonderful women in my life to assist me. I prefer women as attendants over men, and I have always liked women doctors as well. This is a very personal choice. I go with what’s best for me. It’s up to you to find what works for you.