Direct employment for me is life and independence
I have lived a very full and active life over the past 60 years. I had a motorcycle accident in 1977 in which I damaged my spine resulting in tetraplegia (paralised from the chest down and in all four limbs). I have had a family, worked full time in local government and recently helping to develop England's newest National Park in the South Downs. I have also travelled abroad for both work and pleasure and over the past ten years managed a project to rebuilt a derelict farm house in mid-France to provide an accessible holiday home. These are just a few examples, I can clearly say so far, it has been varied and fulfilling.
I have been very lucky to have had a very supportive wife and family, but the independence that was necessary to enable the many achievements I have was due to personal assistants who I employed directly.
Independent living does not mean physically doing everything for yourself, for me it is directing and managing the things I wish to do and achieve. From transport and travelling to support at work, aid in personal care from dawn to dusk and many things associated with daily living.
I have experienced many other arrangements of care over the years from the old style home-helps, care attendant agencies, residential and private care agencies and for me self operated support/care has been the most successful and effective for me.
There are always pros and cons to different processes of support. With agencies there are times when you may not know who will be coming into your house, and others where you have no choice. Direct employment mean you choose your PA and then manage the individual person who will support and care for you.
Good personal assistants/carers can be difficult to find dependant on where you live and it can often be a post code lottery on PA availability. Any help in identifying quality PA's is a 'must' for us as disabled or elderly people living in our communities.
There are online web systems for identifying employees with employers out there, some good, others not so good. It was very gratifying that this one enables you to write and air your views and opinions. It is up to us to share good and poor experiences and help each other in making sure we get the best personal supporters/carers there are, to enable us all to live to our full potential in life.
Neil Slatter, EYJA's friend and supporter