First Person: Ida Cardinale
Ida Cardinale has used home care for almost six years. When she first required assistance at home, she used a traditional nursing agency to meet her care needs. Ida remembers this experience as not being very efficient. “Often, I would communicate to the agency that my schedule was changed but this message wouldn’t make it to the aide. Sometimes they would show up when I wasn’t home. Or, I would be waiting at home at a time when I needed help and no staff would show up.” Ida’s experience with an agency led her to ask her caseworker if there were any alternative options.
Ida’s caseworker told her about Consumer Directed Choices. Ida immediately felt her experiences managing people as a former restaurant owner would make it easier to be the supervisor of her own Personal Assistants (PAs). “I was used to having people working for me, reporting to me. It was a natural transition to direct my care in a manner that was empowering to me.”
Two years ago, Ida accepted an appointment to the Consumer Directed Choices Board of Directors. When asked why she chose to become more involved in the organization, she answered, “I have been helped so much by CDChoices and I believe in the mission. I thought I could bring my life experience to the table to help promote the organization and I’m happy that I’ve been able to advance Consumer Directed Personal Assistance. Consumer direction is something I believe in and I’m happy to work to further the cause.”
As an employer, Ida has learned it is important to appreciate her PAs. “If you want respect from your PAs, you must treat them with respect as well. Remember that they have a life outside of work and your needs are not their only thought.” Ida believes in addressing concerns immediately so that bad feelings don’t have a chance to grow. “Your relationship with your PA is ongoing. If you don’t straighten out issues at the beginning, they will just grow into problems and it will be more difficult to straighten them out later on.”
Ida has three PAs and she says one crucial aspect shared by all three is the ability to perform the job that is asked of them, and do it pleasantly. “I have been fortunate to have some really good workers who take criticism well and who are able to respond positively to suggestions. I feel as if I learn as much from my PAs as they may learn from me. And if you’re lucky – you become friendly with your PAs and you look forward to them being a part of your day.”