Dear Personal Care Attendant

September 5, 2023
Category: ,

Dear Personal Care Attendant

Dear Personal Care Attendant,

I’m writing this letter concerning the events of the past two days. You changed plans. Then canceled.

Let me first say I’ve been singing your praises. You learned my routine quickly. You’ve shown up three times in a row. And on time. My expectations aren’t unreasonable if being on time and doing the job I hired you for is considered “exceptional.”

But I do have expectations. And you need to understand why your job as a personal care attendant or caregiver to someone with a disability is so important.

We talked about switching days for the holiday. I offered to change days to avoid the holiday if you had plans. But you agreed to come on Monday. Until your text Sunday afternoon: “Is there a way we can make Tuesday work?” Sigh. “Tuesday will work,” I replied.

When your plans changed, I shifted my life around for you. I tried to be flexible.

But then Tuesday… I appreciated that you texted as soon as you knew you didn’t feel well. And the follow-up text 20 minutes before your arrival time stating you wouldn’t make it. But that doesn’t change the fact that I can no longer follow through on my plans for today. I needed clean clothes—not the clothes that were dirty from yesterday. I need pants and shoes for work. (Not that I could/would want to go out in public with hair that’s not been washed in 6 days now.) And then there’s the housework I needed help with. Prepping food. Trash. All of this will chip away at my previously planned day, too.

When you couldn’t come on Tuesday, my life needed to be re-rescheduled.

Unfortunately, my days revolve around you. I know that’s a lot of pressure to put on another person. If I could live my life otherwise, believe me, I would. But I don’t have that choice. I’m fortunate I can transfer out of bed and put on my day-old clothes. Other disabled friends would be in a precarious position right now: stuck in bed with no help for bladder or bowel care and without food.

Here’s what I need you to understand. Your choices impact my life. And I know my choices impact yours. It’s a two-way street. If you continue with this job, you need to genuinely consider your impact on my life—both for the good and the bad.

I hope this was a beginner’s mistake. I’m not sure what I’ll do if it isn’t. Firing you puts me in a more stressful situation since PCAs are hard to find.

For now, I’ll hope for the best. If not, I’ll have to settle. And re-reschedule as needed.


One whose life is in your hands




A gifted athlete. An unthinkable accident. Will a wheelchair crush her adventurous spirit?

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Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith

After a spinal cord injury at 16, I discovered that a wheelchair could take me places I never dared to imagined.

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