Thursday, February 12, 2015

In Search Of

Knowing that a new hire comes with a good referral eases my mind.  That referral usually comes after I've asked friends, therapists, neighbors, coaches and my church community if they know someone who's looking for work.  

The job?  Working with Ronan.  

Where?  In our home. 

Why?  Because he requires one-on-one support.

When?  Now until...

We haven't always been able to hire someone that a friend has recommended though.  When that happens, if we don't find someone after reaching out as far as our circle of friends and professionals go, I brainstorm ideas of where else I can look for qualified individuals who can meet Ronan's needs.  
One place a lot of families will use to find in-home help is online.  Since we have had more bad luck than praise reports using online classified ads and when using services that match sitters/nannies/special needs attendants with families, I knew that I wasn't going to go those routes to find a new hire in my latest search.  

We lost a worker a few months ago.  I have been actively trying to fill the position since then.  After asking everyone we knew for some leads, I was not able to find anyone through word of mouth efforts.  I knew that I was going to have to look beyond my comfort zone to find a provider.  

While looking through some ads placed by other parents in similar positions, I read that people were having some luck working with their local community colleges and universities.  I discovered that some schools offer to place their students in both paid and unpaid internships.  I thought that was a really good idea.  If I could hire a student who was training to be in the field and who could earn hands-on experience with our family, I would request to be paired up with someone from the education, nursing or psychology departments.  We have not utilized an intern yet, but I would be open to that if we found the right match for Ronan.  

Recently, a friend shared that she was looking for in-home help for her son as well.  Our boys are both non-verbal and require one-on-one assistance and supervision.  We were both going to have to hire complete strangers because she, too, could not find anyone within her circle of friends.  

Talking about finding someone trustworthy who possesses the skills that our children require was a little nerve wracking for both of us.  I wrote those skills down after we chatted because I wanted to remember them when I sat down to write a job description.  My next step to find a new hire was to post the job description in town.  

I thought I'd share the job description here in case anyone else could use the information.  Feel free to cut/past, add/delete, and make the wording unique to your family's specific needs.  

Job Description:  Part-time in-home respite care

Job Requirements:  Candidate must be at least 18 years old, have a high school degree or equivalent, have a valid driver's license, have a clean record (background check required), provide professional references, and provide their own transportation. 

Must also have excellent communication skills, be willing to learn, be able to adapt according to client’s/family’s needs as well as be able to perform the following:

Arrive on time ready to work

Observe and train with parents to learn client’s specific needs

Hold special needs care experience and/or special education training

Assist with feeding and diapering needs

Bathe, groom, dress and attend to client’s personal hygiene

Assist, monitor or prompt client with encouragement and respect

Redirect, monitor and observe noted care plans and changes to care plan as specified by parents

Redirect client to reduce potential negative behavior(s)

Monitor activity level, behavior outcomes and seizure activity as needed

Be flexible with family’s schedule as well as with client’s needs

Maintain client and family’s privacy

Knowledge of basic sign language a plus


During the interview process, the candidate and I will go over each of those points above.  I'll also add a few things that have come up with past employees.  I'll explain to the candidates that wearing perfume or cologne can cause an increase in Ronan's sensory issues, that Ronan's providers cannot be distracted by their cell phones, that taking pictures of Ronan is not permitted, that our family conversations are private and information is not to be shared with others including on social media, that if we're sick we'll give them as much notice as possible that plans need to be changed, and that we expect the same notice in return.  

Some of those items sound simple enough and may not need to be mentioned, but I'd rather be upfront early with expectations than find us in an uncomfortable situation like we have had in the past when a provider had to be let go for unprofessional behavior.  


We have been blessed with some wonderful helpers in the past.  They  remind me constantly that there are good people in the world.  We need good people working with kids like Ronan and like my friend's son.  
I'm happy to share that after months and months of searching, we'll be welcoming a good person into our home again.  Paperwork is being completed, and a start date is just around the corner.  I wish the same happens soon for my friend and for other families who may still be searching for the right person for their children.  

xo, Cat

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