Disability, My Life, Student Life

The First Change of The Year

This year consists of many new starts now and which are to come. One of which is the different PA’s and carers, who will support me through my second year at De Montfort University.

First, we established who we were looking for and for which roles. My previous PA decided not to return to assist me in the second year as she wanted to pursue other career opportunities, I was sad that she made this decision but I completely understand that she must have moved forward and taken up as many opportunities as she could.

My original morning carer in my first year decided to come back and resume her role in my second year. Having this update, we knew we were looking for someone to fill the PA/Carer role.

Discussing everything through and using what we learnt and picked up from my two years at university, my parents and I decided to recruit two live-in PA’s, in which they would work with me on alternate weeks to each other.

When constructing the description of the role, we included that I was about to start my second year at De Montfort University, Leicester where I am undertaking a Creative Writing and Journalism degree and we were recruiting a Live-In Note Taker, Study Support, Personal Assistant / Carer who will work on alternate weeks up to 7 days on / 7 days off including overnight stays.

Once we determined this role, I wanted to tell them all about me; that I am a bubbly, friendly person who is up for a laugh.

I love a challenge and that I write my own blog and write a range of stories and I am currently writing my own fantasy novel.

Beside this, I described both sides of my personalities; I love going out, being an avid shopper, I going to the cinema, going to coffee shops or for a bite to eat, but I also love to just stay in and chill, watching films, writing and colouring. Then I closed this little bit of the job description, mentioning I dislike horror and thriller and action films, but I am a big Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent and Friends fan. I felt by including my hobbies and interests, that I would make the job description more personal and show that I’m not just a soulless person and to reach out to those who have similar interests to myself and find the right people for the role.

Progressing through the description, I talked about my special needs and the assistance I required.

I described that my disability is Cerebral Palsy, which affects my legs and my left arm, this has affected me in many ways but the main effects are with my mobility and that I use an electric wheelchair to get around.

I require assistance to use a hoist to get in and out of my wheelchair and to other places e.g. to my bed and to the toilet and I would require help dressing, showering, toileting, tidying my room, undressing and having my medication and getting into bed from a PA, however once I am in my wheelchair, but I may need help picking things up and moving things.

I was sure to say that when I’m in my wheelchair, I am quite independent as I am with eating and drinking. However, I would enlist assistance from the PA when I go to the supermarket to do my food shopping and the preparation of my food and cutting up my food before I eat.

Within the job description, I also went into detail about what I would need help with during the day such as taking me to and from university, attending lectures with me and taking notes, which will need to be typed within 48 hours of the lecture, helping me keep organised and motivated with assignments and personal writing, taking me to and from social venues and sometimes remain with me as I attend them in the evening and finally taking me to and collecting me from the train station, although I may stay, based on events and activities in friendship groups or social groups.

Then in our limited spare time, I would need a PA to assist me with updating my blog, creating story plots and helping me type up current stories and one who would assist me to build up a creative writing and journalism portfolio for the future.

Putting the final touches on the job description, I polished it off and put it out there and commenced the search.

After an anxious wait, I finally heard back from Ask Jules, who had agreed to help us out again and they had gone through the applicants that had applied for the job and had narrowed it down to six applicants.

Upon receiving their CV’s, my parents and I reviewed them to see which ones we wanted to interview. We wanted the successful applicant to be reliable, flexible, social, patient, determined, be forward thinking, organised, open to try new things, easy going, be a good time keeper, confident, efficient, problem solver, creative thinker, have creative ideas, compassionate, good listener, bubbly and have a sense of humor!

Reading them through thoroughly and having our key traits in mind for the person, we narrowed it down to six potential people.

Following on from this, we ‘stalked’ them via social media to find out more about them! I know this sounds weird to do this but we don’t mean harm, we do this to get a feel of the applicant and their personalities and hobbies and interests which we could grasp more than we did by their application and CV’s. We also find this an effective way to see an image of the applicant so we can put a face to a name if and when we come to interview them.

Following one of the applicants dropping out, we were left with five applicants in whom we organised interviews with.

Unfortunately, another one of the applicants dropped out, I was a little sad at this as the applicant that dropped out studied the exact same degree at the exact same university, but it couldn’t be helped.

Another couldn’t come on the day that we organised the interviews, so we agreed to hold an interview with this applicant if we needed too. This then left us with three applicants, two applicants that had journalism experience and knowledge and the course were studying at De Montfort University.

The first interviewee was very nice and I felt I would really get on with her, she was clearly eager for the role and we shared interests.

The second applicant was slightly older than me and she was currently in her third year at De Montfort University, studying fine art. This caused us concerns but we still considered her as she had similar interests, including the love of Harry Potter.

The third applicant that interviewed was very bright and outspoken; I loved her love for journalism and her personality.

After the third applicant left, my parents and I sat down with my parents and the Ask Jules representative and discussed the three applicants.

Almost at once, I made my mind up of the two I wanted to hire for the role. I decided to choose applicant one and applicant three.

I felt that the first applicant was very fun, kind and caring and had a love for journalism and experience in the area which would be useful in my course and I can’t quite explain to the full impact of her, but I loved her personality and I felt as if we could have a good laugh and good time as well as support me with my studies.

My parents and I decided to hire the third applicant for the second role. We found her to be efficient and very organised, just like the first applicant and also like the first applicant she has a background in journalism, including an element of knowledge in the computer software that we would be using, especially in my second year, so I felt this very reassuring and overall benefit me in my studies.

The third applicant has a different personality to the first one we hired, but I liked this as though the personalities I felt fitted to both sides of my personalities, so I saw this as an upside.

The third applicant was also affiant and organised and very outspoken, which I felt would be a good thing, as journalists need to be confident and eager and have a key eye for a story.

On a personal level, I felt she would encourage me to try new things and have new experiences, which would help me build as a person.

The applicant had a strong media influence, including the knowledge of different blogging websites and the ability to VLOG, which I felt would be great and help me to bring my blog up to the next level.

The inclusion of VLOGS in my blog would allow me to vent my frustration through the use of video and express my feelings and thoughts in a way that words can’t.

The Ask Jules representative that was with us at the interviews called the successful applicants on my behalf and I was very anxious to hear their responses.

On hearing from the Ask Jules representative I found it amusing to how Ask Jules offered them the role, like the X Factor, keeping them on edge before actually offering them the role.

hen when it came to telling me what their responses were, the Ask Jules representative did the exact same trick with me, I couldn’t help but find this slightly annoying, and as I just wanted to know so I could start planning my next step.

When they finally told me I was so glad and relieved to hear that the two applicants accepted the roles and could start on the day we needed them too.

This relieved some of my anxieties if only slightly as I know who would be with me, assisting me in my second year of university.

This may sound wrong and inappropriate, but we trolled and stalked the applicants via their social media, prior to the interview to get a feel for their personalities and insight into the qualities they could bring to the role, I felt this would be the perfect way to get to know them as well as speaking to them personally as we really felt this was the best way to my previous years at university, my parents have acknowledged that it’s not all about my studies, classes and assignments, its also about the time in between, the spare time, the socials and the memories created while at university.

Once the two applicants accepted their roles, I didn’t want to overcrowd them and scare them off straight away, so I didn’t contact them directly for a while, but when I did, we started to plan all the things we could get up to in our spare time and this was a great thing to do as alongside my anxieties to begin university again, I began to feel excited to start also.

When we finally got the roles filled and everything sorted, we decided to hold a training day so the new applicants could get to know me more as well as the opportunity to have a try at the hoist before they started so they would feel more confident when they came to do it themselves.

We thought that this also would be a great chance for my morning carer to get to know the two applicants.

On the day of the training, we organised for everyone to meet in the halls of residence where I stayed at last year. I would be continuing to stay in the same halls of residence and in the same room, this year also.

I was sad and annoyed to know I was living here again and the friends that I had made in my first year would be living elsewhere with their friends, but I was also happy. It would be an opportunity to get to know a whole new group of people and gain new friendship groups and experiences with them.

I found training day quite a lot of fun and very productive as we were able to show the new PAs how to help use the hoist and my wheelchair as well as telling them my routine and how best to help me. I love how we got on so well and worked as a team.

The fact that my new and I all got on so well reassured me a great deal. The training day also had its funny moments.

Both the PAs and my morning carer had a go at sitting in my wheelchair and steering it, this was quite amusing to watch; now they understood how difficult it could be.

We also thought it would be a great idea to have my PAs have their turn in the hoist so they could experience how it feels to be to be in the sling and hoisted by others and have to really put their trust in us as I would in them.

We all felt the training day was a big success and I look forward to starting university year two.

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