Anonymous asked realsocialskills:Someone contracting with you to do something is like a boss, but it’s a different relationship; such a person is a client and a client is more like a customer. It’s your job to do what the customer wants but the customer isn’t in charge of the business. Or maybe I’m off base. Of course, if the disabled woman didn’t hire and can’t fire this person, the person’s working for the parents, then, aren’t they?I think the power relationships between assistants/PAs/whatever and folks with disabilities are a lot more complicated than that.Even with a direct hire, it’s more complicated than other types of employment. For instance, hiring someone to write a webpage for you is really different than hiring someone to do things you need in order to survive.Especially, given that when people murder folks who are disabled enough to need extensive care, they often get away with it.And there are all kinds of complications I don’t understand well.I don’t know more to say about this, though. Do any of y’all?
Disability support workers have a lot of power over the individuals they serve. Unless they are aware of this aspect of the relationship, it becomes a parent-child type of dynamic, which is wrong particularly when the individuals being served are adults.
Workers end up assuming that they know better than the people they support what is needed or wanted. They talk about and to these people in disrespectful ways. And it ends in abuse.
I think I can talk about this but probably only if people ask questions.
**Note that I have never received support like this and I only ever worked with children. I do provide community access to an adult now, but I am careful about how that plays out each time we spend time together and I ensure that their desires, needs, and rights are respected and I encourage them to be independent in whatever ways they can be (e.g., I drive the car where they choose, they order their own food if we go to a coffee shop and pay for themselves, I ask before helping them do anything even if they’re having difficulty).
I observed this as an aide/attendant who worked with the elder and physically disabled communities. It was one thing when the person in question was responsible for hiring and firing their own personnel, but when an agency was involved… you would see a gradual stripping away of all agency and self-responsibility on the part of the people they were working for. The agency I worked for completely took over the life and home of my client - even that of her husband, even though HE WAS NOT THEIR CLIENT. He really couldn’t do anything about it (he was in his 90s but didn’t really need any help for most of my time there) and there was a major power struggle in which he gradually lost any say in his own life or over the home because of their involvement. They started micromanaging every aspect of his life even though his wife was the client, not him.
slight change of subject but I read something that creeped me out on the DOL Off My Body website (which is a really good website about an important issue):
The Department of Labor described consumer directed services “as a ‘grey market;’ that contains an element of ‘over-the-back-fence network of women [who are] usually untrained, unscreened, and unsupervised, but more affordable without an agency’s fee, less constrained by regulations and hired through personal recommendation.’
They’re trying to make it sound sleazy for disabled people to train, screen, supervise, and hire their own assistant, and implying it’s better for someone to get an assistant chosen by an agency that just sees them as a customer, instead of having a recommendation from someone they actually know! (Plus to make it sound even worse, most of these assistants are *~women~*.)
Your post (mousesinger) made me think of this because it reminds me of how much trouble figures like agencies can cause (or other supervisors/people in charge who aren’t the actual person receiving help or someone who actually is close to them). I want to educate myself more before I write a long post just saying agencies are stupid or whatever, but to me there is a big problem that it isn’t seen as normal and natural for people to fire and hire their own aide—especially now that people can go on the Internet and use websites that are specifically for this purpose, some of which even do background checks. A lot of people could do this on their own. Some people like my client can’t, but can still do it with support or have someone who knows them well try to find the right aide.
Sorry for going so off topic but something I’ve been thinking about for a while.