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Thread: Caregiver Recommendations and Advice while Attending University?

  1. #1

    Caregiver Recommendations and Advice while Attending University?

    I've come a long way since I first joined this forum and I wanted to thank everybody for your help.

    I'm finally transferring universities and I'll likely be be attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in Fall 2019.

    I'm very excited to finally get out of my home because even though my mom cares a lot and takes great care of me, it is very suffocating at times. I remember one of my first posts was about this and so much of the great advice has helped me get to where I am now.

    I'm currently deciding on how to hire a caregiver while I'm attending SLO.

    I am a C4/5 quadriplegic in power wheelchair.

    I have hired and fired caregivers before, both live in and day job caretakers too, but I was hoping to get recommendations and advice regarding what type of caregiver I should try and hire when I'm at SLO.

    Ideally, it would be a student around my age that would have a flexible schedule where we could play by ear as to what times I would get in and out of my wheelchair.
    i.e. there's a party tonight and I want to go so I'll text them saying I'll be back around 10 PM instead of the regular time or I have a night class on different days of the week that end at different times

    Realistically though I have concerns because the typical college student is around 20 years old and what I was that age, I was most definitely not a responsible person. Has anybody had any experiences hiring and relying on people in that age range? What red and green flags should I look out for? I have had caretakers before so I know what I need but I'm also very concerned about how I would deal with any problems that may arise like firing in case of bad performance.

    I was debating on several different living arrangements for myself which I could use to base my recruitment standards off of.

    1. Dorms

    I was discussing this with the disability resource center at SLO and there are two ways I could go about this.

    - Pay for the housing of the theoretical student caretaker
    this way I would have much more control over the hiring and firing process in case conflicts arise because I can't exactly kick them to the curb if something goes terribly wrong

    - in my hiring notice, specify that the student must already be intending to live in the dorm so I could save money and just compensate them money.

    2. Buy a home

    I was also looking at properties in the area which I could maybe purchase and modify but while this is very good in the short term, it's not very good long-term. I would be paying a mortgage of $3000 to $4000 for home with 2/3 beds. I would need two bedrooms for myself and the caretaker plus a guestroom for my family that will often visit to check up on. After I graduate, I wouldn't know what to do either with the property. Each bedroom averages around $1000 in rent which would leave me in the red or barely cover mortgage payments. Buildings modified for ADA access typically don't have as high of a property value either especially in SLO which is a rather small college town.

    I was primarily hoping for your past experiences from which I could formulate a better plan for myself. Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    I'm sorry I don't have much to offer except one suggestion. Just wondering if there is married student housing, and/or graduate student housing in the area. They may be more mature, responsible persons and perhaps in need of the extra income.

  3. #3
    While there is no school of nursing at Cal Poly SLO, there may be a local junior college with a nursing program. These can be a good source for finding part-time attendants. The Disabled Students office at Cal Poly should also be able to help you; perhaps work-study students are available for this as they are at some other universities.

    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

  4. #4
    I am a C4/5 quadriplegic in a power chair as well. I have been injured for 16 years, and I returned to school out of state within the year after my injury. The approach to getting a caregiving staff is very unique for each person, but I'd be glad to share my approach.

    I was EXTREMELY fortunate with my situation returning to school. I had a caregiver that had been my tech during rehab, and she was interested in journeying with me with me out of state for college. Foolishly, she was my only caregiver, but it never came back to bite me. I mainly never looked for anyone new because my college was in a small town with few resources. I only decided to go there because it was where I had started pre-injury.

    I lived in the dorms near friends, and they were willing to rotate being my "on-call" each night (in case of emergency or spasm). My family and I bought housing for the caregiver as some of the payment, and she also received payment for her hours through the state (I was on the consumer-directed program in my home state). So she had a good deal.

    I went to grad school in a larger city, which is probably more relevant to your upcoming move. I lived in a home with two roommates, and I offered them reduced rent in exchange for helping me with dinner each night and for alternating nightly "on-call". I hired a variety of caregivers here; several were students, and many were adults from the area. I agree that it can be intimidating potentially relying on a possibly immature student, but if you properly screen by thoroughly interviewing and checking references, you can find some good ones.

    Choosing whether to live in the dorms or buy a home is up to you. In undergrad I really enjoyed living in dorms and being on campus with everyone because I went to a relatively small school. In grad school, I enjoyed being away from the busyness of campus and living in a house. It's great that your school would be willing to let you pay for the housing cost of a student caretaker! I think that a potential benefit to living in a house is that you wouldn't be stuck with only the student population in your hiring.

    Either way, I like the idea of having a primary live-in caregiver, but I would also recommend hiring one or two for some of the shifts. You never know when your primary caregiver might be out of commission for a shift or more. Backup is important!

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Domosoyo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Minneapolis, MN
    My daughter could write more on this than I can. She managed all her own PCA’s at Arizona and just graduated. She is about the same level as you and also uses a powerchair.

    Each semester she had five PCA’s. All of the PCA’s were undergrads and Physio majors on track to be doctors or physician’s assistants. These students typically were self-starters, great students and could use the PCA experience on a resume or grad school application….most of them did. They were compensated by a great hourly rate. The times she needed them were morning, noon and night. No overnight hours. Only one was fired. It was quicker for student PCA’s to gain access to dorm/ grad housing than non-students. My daughter stayed in the dorms two years and then spent two years in grad housing. She preferred the grad housing because of the maturity level of the students, low noise levels, apartment living, building security, and it was right on the edge of campus. When I visited I just slept on a blowup. If you would like to speak with her PM me and I’ll put you in touch.
    Last edited by Domosoyo; 05-20-2019 at 06:12 PM.

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