Personal Assistant Dos and Donts

Guard Against Dishonest Help with these tips to keep you and your property safe

Stealing your belongings, eating your food, using your personal property, or damaging something are problems that can occur when you employ a personal assistant or caregiver.

In most cases, people are honest and prove to be competent and reliable. Occasionally, however, you may encounter theft and property misuse or damage. Procedures for handling these issues should be written into any employment contract.

Don’t hesitate to dismiss someone who has committed theft of property or serious property misuse or damage! Theft and property damage are legal matters, and you should file a police report. Your insurance company will require this if you file a claim based on theft. You may also wish to press charges if the offense is serious.

Although there is no guarantee against crime, being careful about how you handle your property can usually eliminate many of the problems. Take the following preventive measures:

Never:

• Give a personal assistant access to your cash, unless he or she is shopping for you

• Give a personal assistant access to your checkbook, unless he or she pays your bills for you

• Give a personal assistant access to your credit or debit cards

• Leave valuables lying around

Always:

• Keep your medications under your control

• Keep your alcoholic beverages under your control

• Keep your vehicle’s keys yourself unless your assistant provides driving service

• Check your telephone bills for charges you did not incur

• Check the receipts if a personal assistant does shopping for you

If a personal assistant:

• Physically assaults you, call 9-1-1 immediately

• Steals from you, call the police immediately and take steps to discharge the assistant at once

Sometimes you can’t follow these guidelines. For instance, if your personal assistant runs errands for you requiring your vehicle and payment of some sort, you have to give him/her the keys and enough money for the purchases (NEVER give your debit or credit cards!). In all cases, limit the access and monitor for problems.

It is important that you feel comfortable with personal assistants. All expectations should be clearly outlined and discussed in the initial agreement you both sign. If problems arise, talk about them right away and do not let them build to a point where the only solution is termination.

Little problems usually do not become major ones if they are addressed directly and resolved in the early stages.

Source: Managing Personal Assistants: A Consumer Guide. Copyright ©Paralyzed Veterans of America 2000. (out of print)

 

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