Disability, My Life

Hiring Carers – Round 5: Who is the Queen


Hi guys. Here I am again on the hunt for two new PA’s. Poppy left not long before Christmas and my cousin Kate kindly stepped in for a while. Meanwhile, Cho remained with me for about a year before she decided to begin an adventure of her own. Then a PA from AskJules also very kindly stepped in as well. As Kate, herself was due to start her own adventure in September I began the hunt for new PAs. 

Having a masters degree and my new adventure on the horizon, I had an idea of the type of person I was looking for and altered the advert and my job description accordingly and soon they began trickiling in and I decided to split the search into two parts, recruiting one and then the other. Going forward, I will continue to substitute applicants’ names with Harry Potter character names.

Part One

In this first part of my search, AskJules assisted me, shortlisting three applicants. I will call them Petuna, (Harry’s aunt), Sybil (the divernation teacher) and Arianna (Dumbledore’s sister). 

Applicant One – Petunia

The first applicant I considered who I will call Petunia described herself as bubbly and had  a positive attitude towards work. She expressed that she was   realible and punctual. She had recently graduated University and was keen to start a career and definitely had the skills needed for the role. Her ability to manage tasks both in a group and independently would surely help me on a personal level to complete daily tasks as well as at an academic level. Petuna also had a knowledge of the role already having had expierence in similar roles and would know what to expect. 

Though this was clearly a good candidate and was clearly focused, I felt that her application was predominantly around the care aspect of the role and through this was good, the care aspect is not the whole job. There was also no indication of Petunia’s creative side which I needed to be in someone to help me through my masters study. 

For these reasons, I couldn’t offer her the role.

Applicant Two – Sybil 

The second applicant I considered, we shall call Sybil, describes herself friendly, enthusiastic, optimistic person who uses her own initiative, while also being patient and caring person and reliable and a fast learner with the ability to understand others and problem solve.

This applicant doesn’t have care experience but this is not crucial when they are willing to learn. Her attitude towards this job and other more narrow-minded attitudes and ignorance was good as she felt that we could deal with it effectively.

Sybil seemed very positive and upbeat and cherishes quiet time as she enjoys nights in watching dramas, biographies, Modern Family and war films, while also enjoying Inde music.

Our similar film interests include Hunger Games and Harry Potter, maybe more if popcorn and drinks are involved. This person also has a chef background which sounded good for the job with her specialalitties and preferable dishes being Shepherd pie, cottage pie, roast dinner, particularly lamb roast dinners.     

During the interview it was clear that she was eager for the role and working collaboratively in creative ways which sounded good to me with my new venture coming up, especially when she offered to bounce creative ideas back and forth in personal and academic sense. This would give us both chances to be creative. She had a get up and go attitude but as she also cherishes quiet time, which sounds a good balance to me especially when I go to University. 

Sybil informed me that she was thirty years old and currently self-employed and has kept herself busy, with her years of partying behind her. She hopes to go into art therapy which she felt this job could help her with. In her spare time, she enjoys writing poetry, playing  with words, making things and generally being creative.

She is local and currently studies a creative degree but reassures me that she can be flexible and complete her work when she is not with me but would needed as much notice as possible if needed to cover. This did concern me as the applicant does have strong commitments that could overall affect the role however unintentional.  

Unfortunately, though she was a strong candidate I had underlining concerned surrounding her current studies. She would be in her third year of her undergraduate degree at the same time I would be studying my masters degree and it had me greatly on edge of how we will balance everything to suit both of us. I didn’t think it would end up going well which isn’t fair on either of us. For these reasons I could not offer her the role.

Applicant Three – Arianna

A new candidate applied, who I will call Arianna. Her application truly stood out to me and I had a clear sense of her understanding of the role while also wanting to develop a friendship. Even through her application, I felt the connection and her energy for the job.She is better at cooking over baking as it gives her more freedom.

She comes from a Greek background and her mum is always cooking so she likes to do the same. She enjoys Italian as well as Indian food, including homemade pizza. Though she doesn’t have any care experience, she does have knowledge and awareness of particular disabilities which may be useful in the role. She describes herself as confident, uses her own initiative, and has the ability to adapt. She is also a problem solver, creative thinker and a quick learner.

Having recently graduated from University, she was also flexible and could start immediately and could cover for the other PA when necessary. Based on all of this, I decided to offer her an interview and was struck by how open and eager she was to learn about me. The interview also gave me a chance to get to know her. Straight away we didn’t need much prompting off anyone and we had a really good chat. She had previously assisted her fellow students at her undergraduate University, which has given her skills and knowledge that she can bring forth.

She had helped out on her University open days, where she has been an ambassador which involved helping disabled students around campus, gaining access to the buildings. She described the experience as being happy to help out and also dealing with ignorant people and closed mind attitudes.  She enjoys walking and getting exercise which is great because I prefer walking to places if it’s suitable weather, instead of spending money on taxis.

For the University side of the role, Arianna appeared to have a very creative nature in and outside her course. She enjoys writing poetry (romance, self-reflection, mythology and nature), listening to music, painting and expressing herself in forms without words. She was enthusiastic and open to bounce ideas around when it comes to writing creatively for the course as well as personal writing.

Through doing it together we can expand ideas and allow a fresh set of eyes on each piece of creative work. We have these similarities and the passion and drive to practice writing creatively, mixing genres and imagining characters and scenarios, which would be excellent for my masters.

Arianna came across as motivated and organised, including making lists, and liked the idea of working in the library, organising and prioritising the work accordingly while dealing with the biggest problem, procrastination. If this or stress happens, we take it one step at time and she understands that when being creative, we can’t force it, we can relax but be productive at the same time. 

We both like the idea of getting things done early rather than rushing at the last minute as that will make it more stressful and then come back to the house and watch as much Netflix and TV as we want afterwards. Together, we enjoy going out as well as staying in but prefer to stay in and watch Netflix or a good film. We have a similar liking of Friends TV series and a Harry Potter enjoyment, along with romance and comedies as well.

She too can get lost in her own bubble but likes to find the right balance with going out if the weather is good. Like me, she enjoys blogging as well as creating websites using WordPress. This definitely would be useful to me as I need to update my online portfolio as well as creating a virtual writers diary as a requirement for my masters degree. 

Myself and Arianna clearly have a lot in common and together we can collaborate creatively and this will benefit us both.   For these reasons, I offered Arianna the role of the first PA and I am delighted to say she has accepted! 

Arianna Training 

After I offered Arianna the role and she accepted, I began talking with her via social media. We were both excited and shared more about ourselves while talking about the possibilities about how we could fill our time.We organised two official training days at my house for Arianna.

Kate and I were able to show her everything involved in the role, including personal care, daily tasks and the more fun things we can get up to. Due to Covid-19, the initial interview was on skype so it was really nice to get to know her in person

.It’s important that we bond on a personal level as we are going to spend a lot of time together and in close proximity especially in the current crisis.

I loved being able to go out again to a cafe, being in a relaxed environment and getting to know Arianna more. In the interview I got the impression that she liked to write creatively and this is something that I liked in her especially for this role.

This was the same when we met in person and it felt good to be able to share experiences. Overall, I am really looking forward to her starting officially ahead of my start at Coventry University.

Part Two 

Having now recruited Arianna for position one on the search for two new PAs, I was now on part two of my hunt for  a new PA.

Once again I will switch the applicant’s and the successful candidate’s names for Harry Potter names. Susan (Harry’s classmate), Flur (Harry’s fellow competitor in Tri – Wizard tournament) and Penelope (Harry’s classmate).

Applicant Four – Susan

The fourth applicant who applied for the role had clearly read through the job advert and description and thought about the aspects of it. She had previously cared for people with different disabilities, cooked, cleaned as well as assisting with daily tasks.

This isn’t mandatory for the role but it’s a good thing to be aware of. Susan is creative through painting and drawing. She recently graduated from Coventry University studying Fine Art. This caught my eye as I am due to start studying there in September.Through her application, I could see that she enjoys outdoor activities, walks and picnics (particularly around the current climate), and keeping healthy.

Our common interests included going to the cinema at any chance possible. She was eager to show and share dishes that she has learnt during lockdown as well as going to restaurants. 

She described herself as open minded and having a caring nature with a creative side which we both share. Our ideal night would include pampering with snacks, face masks, painting nails and films. In all, she came across as a good applicant but I decided not to offer her the role.

Applicant Five – Flur 

Flur was the fifth applicant that Ask Jules presented me with. Her application immediately caught my eye as her CV was a very creative one. It stood out to me among the other CVs that I had been receiving and it definitely showed her creative spark. 

On her application form, there was a cover letter that was addressed directly to me which I felt added that personal touch. There were also a few other personal touches to her application that I liked. Something else I liked about her is she is slightly older than the other applicants that had applied so she had life experience behind her too.

To some level this also worried me because I felt that we wouldn’t have as much in common and there wouldn’t be enough connection due to this. Flur was also working to achieve a master’s degree in an English related subject so she would know what would be involved when I myself would be working towards this qualification.

Similar to other applicants who applied, she described herself as happy go lucky, a creative thinker, and patiently able to assist me with creative writing in and outside the course. 

I could also see that she had thoroughly read through the details provided to her and was able to link her different experiences and jobs to each part of the job description, including her knowledge of the care side of the role. I could see both her creative and professional sides.

This role isn’t based solely on studying a masters or the care side, it is also about having similar interests to each other such as what we like to watch on TV, or films we like, and in this case we both like Friends and Hunger Games as well as a big liking for all things Disney.

As I considered her application, I thought about it a lot and decided that although she came across as a strong candidate, she seemed like a real free spirit and my concern was that she would feel that this job was just a “filler” until she gets something else. Sadly, I was right, as I got the news that Flur had found and accepted another position. Therefore, I continued my search…

Applicant Six – Penelope

Last but certainly not least, this applicant came as a pleasant surprise. I shall call her Penelope. When it comes to PAs stepping in to cover while my current PA is unavailable or while I’m looking for a new PA, I try not to bond or connect with temporary PAs too much. I know it sounds bad, but it hurts to get to know these people and bond, only for them to leave a short time later. 

But the two of us hit it off straight away and it was nice to have someone covering with many similar interests and an overall down to earth person. Penelope very kindly came and covered for a few weeks.

Having previously worked with Ask Jules, she already had experience and knowledge she could use in the role (though it isn’t mandatory for the role) which was reassuring and allowed us more time to get to know each other. 

Over the weeks, Penelope and I got close as she was an all round nice person, laid back and loved to chill and watch Netflix or a film. I’m pleased that I got her hooked on the Once Upon a Time series.

She loved going out as well, although, Covid-19 restricts us sometimes but we go out whenever and wherever possible. Penelope was around during the interviewing process for other applicants.

While I was interviewing these possible candidates, I was wondering whether Penelope was available from September and if there was a chance that she would take the second role. I was afraid to broach the subject as I didn’t want her to feel put on the spot, nor did I want to be disappointed if she said she was not. 

The two of us got on really well. We enjoyed going out as well as staying in, enjoying Harry Potter and Once Upon a Time etc. She worked for Ask Jules and was put forward to me by them which shows positivity. I thought it was ridiculous to look for someone when a strong candidate was right in front of me. 

Ask Jules did a really good job at matching us both up and I could see the level of thinking they do when matching up applicants to clients or when they try to find some temporary cover. Penelope and I were such a good match and it felt like they were psychic, as if they had imagined that Penelope could become a permanent fixture for the role. 

All three of us, Arianna, Penelope and I all shared a creative mind and a love to write creatively in different forms so this would be great for my course at Coventry University and outside as well. Therefore, I chose to offer Penelope the role and I am excited to say that she has accepted the role.

Welcome to Sophie’s Team

I finally have my team! Arianna and Penelope are filling two roles as PAs and coming with me to Coventry University to join my new adventure. As Penelope has completed her training, I thought it would be great for the three of us to spend some time together.

The perfect chance came when I was given the opportunity to visit Coventry University again before I begin my studies in September. 

To my delight, both Arianna and Penelope could come and it was so good to have the whole team together. I was a little bit anxious about it as I didn’t know whether it would be too much to get to know one another and tour around the University fully in one day. 

It was very helpful for my PAs to experience a day trip, including the train journey and campus location, to see where I will be studying and also become familiar with it.

We all seemed to enjoy it and it was a productive day out to get all our bearings and get to know each other a bit better.I can definitely see that both Arianna and Penelope were very enthusiastic about the sound of the course and the campus itself. We can all learn from the course as we are all creative writers in some way.

This journey is a perfect way to find new ways to develop ourselves as creative writers.Once we got back to Birmingham we all went out for something to eat which was great because we had the chance to talk about things that we enjoyed about Coventry as well as discuss any queries or questions in a more relaxed environment. 

Arianna and Penelope are two great people and I am grateful to Ask Jules for putting them forward for the PA role and I’m looking forward to the new adventures this journey will bring.

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