Disability, My Life, Student Life

At University with a Disability – Hiring Carers – Round 3

The new academic year at De Montfort University is here once more. This time I’m going into my third year…

Once again, the search was on for a PA/carer to assist me through the third year and hopefully shape my experience throughout the academic terms 2018-2019; so, I am able to graduate at the end of the year. Using the same routine that we adopted last year of two PA/carers, working one week and having a week off. They would both be working on alternate weeks.

Shortly after we began our search, we heard from the one person that has stayed with me throughout my DMU student experience so far. Sabrina, who has acted as my morning carer for the past two years offered to fill one of the two PA/carer roles. She reassured us that helping us out on alternate weeks in Birmingham in the summer has made her want this role. Pleased, we restarted the search, looking for one PA/carer to have the second role.

Applicants began trickling in, very slowly at first. It seemed that roles of this kind in Leicester weren’t that popular. After a while, Ask Jules contacted me with a name of an applicant, who they had spoken to and who they thought would be a strong contender for the role.

Once we read her CV and cover letter, I was quick to organise an interview with her…

This applicant (Nymphadora) had a very kind smile and a very kind manner. When we sat down and started to talk, we were both very quiet and shy as we were both very nervous. All we knew of each other was our CVs and descriptions. But once the conversation started to flow, it started to flow fast, which allowed us both to come out of our shells.

As we talked, I found that her very kind nature showed through and she was friendly and she was confident and full of stories of her experiences of her own University journey. As part of her course, Nymphadora went travelling for a year, so I enjoyed hearing about her adventures. When we discussed my job description, she had thought about it and all that was involved and she seemed perfectly capable of doing the job.

Not that it is mandatory, but Nymphadora had care experience, so understood some of my care needs without being too detailed about it in our first meeting. Nymphadora was very willing to assist and encourage me with my dissertation which was key for this year.

After talking about the rigid and more serious side of the role, I really wanted to know about her personality and whether any of our traits matched. Nymphadora was talking about her family and how close she is to them. I really felt a sense of warmth at this revelation as I am also really close to my family. Nymphadora loves blogging, just like me. She was very keen to assist me with it and I was very eager for this.

She enjoys going out to bars and clubs, but at the same time, she likes to relax with a good film or a series on Netflix. I really liked this about Nymphadora as I think my personality has both of these traits as well. Then I found she had a love for Harry Potter. That was a definite tick in the box!

I really didn’t want to make a decision solely on just interviewing one person. So, I resolved to wait to see if there were any other possible applicants to apply, who I wanted to interview.

We were lucky to soon receive a new applicant, who I liked and I wanted to know more about, so we were quick to organise an interview with her…

This applicant (Hermione) made a great first impression, I got an immediate positive vibe off her and we began chatting straight away, without any prompting from anyone. We were getting to know each other’s personalities, rather than it be a question, answer session. It didn’t feel even like an interview between two people who were meeting for the first time,

Hermione and chatted like we had known each other for years. On the serious side of things, she came across very responsible and organised. One of her key aspects that she said was her strength was her punctuality and organisation skills. This would prove very useful to me where my lectures and seminars are concerned. It will also keep me on track when I come to organise, plan and write my dissertation.

The third year is a big difficult challenge so this comes as a relief to me. Hermione did not have any care experience, but this was not a deal breaker, that could be taught if we decided we wanted to offer her the position. As she had lived in halls of residence herself, I asked her how her cooking skills were. It turned she ate meat, which was good as I worried about people and their comfort about cooking meat if they weren’t a meat eater. She told me that she could make dishes that I haven’t tried before, including chicken in coke and Fanta.

On the lighter side, Hermione loved the job description and preferred mine over others she read and I felt honoured that she chose mine when there were so many others to consider. I really felt our personalities matched, including our absolute love for Harry Potter. Hermione was bubbly and fun and open to try new things and this really showed in her personality.

Hermione and I found that we had a lot in common, including both having chosen De Montfort University. This reassured me as she could show me things that I didn’t know about the University. It also reassured me that she knew her way around Leicester as though I have been living there off and on for roughly two years, I am not completely confident about going around the city, so I am reassured that she knows her way around and can show me new places that I may have not have been yet.

Hermione loves to do hair and make-up, and I loved this. I’ve always wanted someone, who was really interested in hair and makeup to do mine as well as her own, before going out. I love that fact that we can have fun getting ready together before going out. She was also good at costumes and creating outfits, which will prove very useful particularly in freshers week and the Halloween ball. This also ticked more of my boxes and when I inquired about her favourite locations for a student night out in Leicester, she told me it was ‘Mosh’ which I like for some good music and cheap entry and drinks. A good combination for someone on a student budget. Telling me that Mosh was one of her favourite places to go on a night out was also reassuring to me as it showed she liked student nights out and doesn’t mind going out later than 11:30 which was most defiantly a big tick in a box on my mental checklist.

I was ready to make my decision between Nymphadora and Hermione when I got a phone call from an Ask Jules representative informing me there was another possible applicant ready for interviews. Though it was a difficult choice as it stood already, I acknowledged the third applicant and arranged an interview.

This third applicant (Lily) came across as confident kind and smart just like the other two applicants that I interviewed. The conversation flowed well and her positive traits showed through well. During the interview, Lily had a lot of questions which I was happy to answer and it really showed that she had thought about the job as well as having a good understanding of the role. She was keen and confident about doing all of the components of what is included in the role, personal support, university support as well as going out on a regular basis. I felt on the more serious side of the role, she was punctual and organised which is a great thing. Lastly and on the more relaxed side of the role, our personalities were a match as she likes a relaxed evening in as well as going out and enjoying the city. The only downside was that she hasn’t watched Harry Potter, but I’m sure I can rectify that easily enough.

Now, having finished three interviews, I had some tough decisions to make…

First, I wanted to review all of the interviews and eliminate elements that I didn’t think were revenant to me making my final decision. This included the fact that only Nymphadora had care experience. This didn’t matter to us as my parents and I need to train them anyway, so they are used to my routine. In the past, I have hired people who have had previous care experience which is all well and good, but they have been taught to complete the care in a certain way. Everyone is different and everyone’s needs are different, so each personal support is unique to that person. But by having someone without care experience will allow me to train them in the way I need doing things. Also, I think that care is only 10% of the role and that part can be taught easily. With this in mind, everyone was on equal footing in going forward. Continuing to eliminate the straightforward similarities in all three interviews which wouldn’t contribute to my overall decision.

All three applicants seemed like they had thought long and hard about the job role and were perfectly comfortable and capable with anything related to the job role. They also had similar, if not the same, positive traits of being punctual and organised and efficient. Another thing that reassured me was they were all happy to assist me with my dissertation. They all were confident, kind, friendly, smart women and this showed during the interviews once they got going. They were all chatty and I came out of all three interviews feeling really positive.

Nymphadora, Hermione and Lily were on equal footing until now. I think it was time for me to start making some hard decisions. I loved how each of the applicant’s personalities matched my own in different ways. Love or no love for Harry Potter aside, I started to consider them each separately. I considered how I loved that both Nymphadora and Lily loved staying in watching Netflix and films, but also loved going out into the city of a night.

I had to now stop distinguish each vibe from the others. Here, I had to say goodbye to Lily. Unfortunately, I just didn’t feel a strong vibe, compared to the vibe I felt for the others.

After more thought, I saw a path open up and it very clear in the way I wanted to go. I chose to offer the role to Hermione!

Hermione gave me a strong positive vibe from the beginning. We began chatting immediately, it truly was like we had known each other for years. I felt completely overjoyed that she chose my job description over the others she read. I knew she would take the job seriously and help me manage my time effectively and assist me throughout the duration of my third year. She is a good cook and eats meat, so it will balance out my meal plans a lot more, so when we indulge in takeaways or sweet things, it will taste all the more satisfying.

l love how she is open to trying new things, which will encourage me to do the same things. I have anxieties about trying new things, especially on my own. So, having a friend to try them with is all the more encouraging and fun. I found it a coincidence and fun that she went to and graduated from De Montfort University only a year. She may know things about the University that I may have not seen or discovered yet.

While interviewing three different people with three different personalities, I had to think about the style of year that I wanted my third year. I came to the conclusion that this could possibly be my last ever year at University and I wanted to make the most of it and seize all of the opportunities I can to work towards a better year and our different traits could compliment each other and achieve all the things I want to by the end of the year.

The structure and punctuality and organisation can contribute to the academic side of the year. Our love for the same films and our love for Harry Potter will allow us to enjoy some downtime together after a long, hard day at University. Then to put a cherry and the top layer this different flavoured cake, Hermione is bubbly and fun and loves doing different costumes and makeup, before going out, particularly for student nights out.

I was more than happy and confident that I had made the right decision. Unfortunately, though, we had to say no to Nymphadora and Lily. I hate telling people they haven’t got the job.

I asked an Ask Jules representative to contact Hermione and offer her the job. I hated the anxious wait to find out her response and whether she was going to accept or not.

I am delighted to say that Hermione has accepted the role!

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2 thoughts on “At University with a Disability – Hiring Carers – Round 3”

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