Introduction to Personal Assistance Services

Personal Assistance Services (PAS) are services that another person supplies to a person with a disability. These services can include help with:

  • Home activities, such as bathing, dressing, cooking, toileting, and remembering things
  • Community activities, such as shopping, going to the doctor, and help getting around
  • Work activities, such as reading, sign-language interpretation, and lifting or reaching

The key thing about all of these services is that they can allow you to live your day-to-day life.

Example
Marta is a woman with cerebral palsy who lives by herself in her own apartment. Every morning, her Personal Care Assistant (PCA), Dolores, comes at 6 a.m. and helps her get out of bed, bathe, get dressed, get into her power wheelchair, have breakfast, and get onto the bus to go to work at 8 a.m.
While Marta is at her job in an office, Dolores goes to a technical school where she is training to become a nurse. Marta works all day and gets home at 6 p.m. Dolores comes back to Marta’s house at 7 p.m., helps Marta with dinner, going to the bathroom, getting undressed, and getting into bed. Dolores goes to her own home at 9 p.m.

Finding Personal Care Assistants

Generally, you have 3 options for finding a Personal Care Assistant (PCA):

  1. Through a PAS agency
  2. By getting a personal recommendation or looking online
  3. By having a family member or friend supply you with these services

If your PCA is funded by the Arizona Long-Term Care System (ALTCS), usually your ALTCS Managed Care Organization (MCO) will contract your PCA through an agency. Depending on your preference, you may know somebody who works with the agency who you would prefer to have as your attendant. Or you may prefer to tell the agency some preferences in an assistant and let the agency find somebody who has those qualifications. For example, you may request a female assistant or one who speaks Spanish.

If you are getting your PCA through ALTCS, you may select the Self-Directed Attendant Care (SDAC) option, which means you could hire a PCA on your own without going through an agency. Either way, whether your ALTCS-funded PCA is through an agency or was hired through the SDAC option, you won’t have to worry about handling the PCA’s paycheck or doing tax withholding. For more information about the SDAC option, click here.

If you use the SDAC option or are paying for your PCA yourself, you will have to find your own PCA, hire the person, do any necessary training, and also handle firing the person if your PCA is not doing an adequate job.

If you don’t get your PAS paid for by ALTCS, you can choose a method to find a PCA that you prefer. If you hire a PCA on your own, you will have the responsibility of hiring, training, and supervising your attendant, and you have the additional responsibility paying your attendant and doing any other paperwork, such as dealing with Social Security taxes.

Ensuring a Good Relationship

You will be spending a lot of time with your Personal Care Assistant and it is very important that you communicate well with each other and have a good relationship. Not only that, but you’ll need to learn about how to hire somebody, train the person, handle payments and payroll taxes, and more. A lot of responsibilities come with having paid assistance, though you can avoid some of them if you get your PCA through an agency.

Personal Assistance Services can be crucial to your ability to live independently. For more information on how to hire and communicate well with your personal assistant, as well as other tips, take a look at the following resources: