Personal care attendants

Personal care attendants can help keep track of medical necessities following a diagnosis. A new website from the Minnesota Department of Human Services was designed to help make connections between those looking for a hand, and those who can give it.

Are you looking for a little help with your daily needs, but can't find a caregiver with the right skills who fits your schedule? 

You may want to check out a new website from the Minnesota Department of Human Services: Direct Support Connect. Find it at directsupportconnect.com. If you are a personal care attendant looking for clients, the site is designed for you as well. The Minnesota Department of Human Services encourages those who provide direct support to people with disabilities and older adults, or are interested in exploring these careers, to register.

According to the DHS, the website is free, safe and secure, and meant to respond to a high demand for direct support workers. There is a section on the website for caregivers, and those seeking one, to create profiles, and make a connection easier. 

With Direct Support Connect, workers can:

  • Find part-time and full-time work opportunities,
  • filter and review jobs compatible with their schedule, skills and preferences,
  • respond to job postings through secure messaging, and 
  • find links to career building classes and resources from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Kathy Kalenberg with Aveyron Homes in Hutchinson, which provides intermediate care for children and adults with disabilities, said the website is designed in a way that should help people looking for a PCA.

"It is set up so that it will actually work for them," she said. "Of course, it's too early to say what will happen. But the theory of it is good."

She said it should be helpful to individuals looking for work. And though Aveyron registered with the site, Kalenberg said, it is likely to provide little to established companies, such as Aveyron and others in Hutchinson and around the state. 

"We can't finalize our presence on that site because we are a corporation," she said. 

But, Kalenberg said, there is a demand for the service Direct Support Connect offers.

"As you see more and more larger facilities closing, you see more people in their own home," she said. "It's a good thing. If I was the one who needed services, and I could have my own apartment, or could live with family, that would be wonderful."

Personal care attendants are part of a medical model geared toward people with various diagnoses who can benefit from help with necessities such as daily blood sugar tests. In some cases, people looking for an attendant may not need someone to administer a test, but someone to help keep track of the various medical requirements in their daily life. A PCA may help arrange Meals on Wheels, help order medication, help soak feet and more. 

"On the consumer end, it's a great thing for families, a great thing for the consumers," Kalenberg said. "So many times they feel powerless. This gives them a tool where they can search, see who is nearby, instead of waiting for applications."

She said that many times, a PCA may only need 10 hours a week to work with a client. That leaves them searching for other part-time work, or more clients. 

"We provide PCA services, and would just as soon hire them as well," Kalenberg said. "But it's (the website) a good thing. People get choices. How can you not support that?"

PCAs also help parents. When work lasts until 6 p.m., and the kids are home at 3:30 p.m., a PCA can help bridge that gap, Kalenberg said. They can also help parents who have to be to work early, and need help getting their children ready for school. Certain diagnoses for children may prevent the parent from taking them to certain events or obligations. A PCA can help there as well.

"Every case is individual," Kalenberg said. "A PCA can step in for the primary caregiver when they aren't available."

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