Nanette: Like Kenneth, my daughter Kerry has a hearing impairment and she was friendly with Kenneth and met up at the same clubs and activities. I used to volunteer at a local club, supporting young people to gain Duke of Edinburgh awards and I got to know Kenneth through that work. I didn’t have any work experience in social care before becoming his PA. I did bar work, worked in a factory and later worked in a children’s nursery. Despite living in Ayrshire, Kenneth had to travel to Glasgow to school and I was employed to escort him to and from school.
Kenneth: Before I applied for Self-directed Support I had very little help and depended a lot on my family. As I had a lot of health problems growing up, including having a tracheostomy fitted when I was two years of age, most of the support I received was for my health needs. However in 2006 I was able to have my tracheostomy removed and this made a huge difference to my life. Eventually I applied for Self-directed Support because although I have a great relationship with my family, I wanted to be more independent and live an active life.
Nanette: Over the years Kenneth and I got to know each other well and when the PA job came up I felt that I could offer the type of support he wanted. Although Kenneth lip reads he also uses British Sign Language (BSL). Due to my daughter’s hearing impairment I can sign so this allows me to communicate well with him and interpret for him when required. I think that’s a good example of the personal skills that you can bring to being a PA.
Kenneth: Nanette works with me several days a week. I put appointments and the things I want to do in my diary and we decide when Nanette will work based on my plans for the week. I chose a PA because I like the fact that I have one person working for me who gets to know me well rather than several different workers coming into my home. I learned to drive recently and Nanette supports me to go out to activities or day outings. We don’t do everything together though! I also attend clubs or just enjoy time with my family. I trained to be a BSL language assessor and I am now fully qualified. I travel to England and other places to assess students’ BSL skills. This involves testing the standard of the students’ sign language skills through having conversations with them. Unfortunately there is also a great deal of paperwork which is not so enjoyable! Nanette travels with me so some weeks we adjust her working hours to allow us to build up extra hours for travelling which can sometimes involve overnight stays.
Nanette: I also support Kenneth with day to day tasks such as general housework, shopping and cooking. Because Kenneth had the tracheostomy for so many years he needs to have food prepared in a certain way and I help with that also. I get a great deal from seeing Kenneth enjoying the life he has now. I can honestly say that it is the only job I have had that I enjoy 100%. I’ve never looked back.
Kenneth: I would say to anyone thinking about employing a PA that it can be difficult to begin with, but once you build a good working relationship with your PA, it’s worth it!