Chapter 5: What Next?

In a nutshell …

The work you do as a personal assistant is very important. It plays a key role in promoting independent living and improving quality of life. Some aspects of the work are simple and straightforward, while others can be more difficult and complex at times. So, to make sure that you are doing the job to the best of your ability (and getting the maximum level of job satisfaction), it is really important that you keep learning over time. In this final chapter we look at what is involved in that. We also look at the importance of self-care, which involves making sure that you do not put your own health and well-being at risk. The three aspects we focus on are:
Consolidating the learning
Building on the learning
Self-care and getting support
The basics
Reading relevant materials and watching helpful videos are part of the learning process, but they are only a part of it – they are not the whole story. Sadly, knowledge and understanding can easily fade away quite quickly, which then means that our learning efforts have not been very fruitful. 
For example, I have had the experience many, many times of running a training course in which, in the morning, participants comment quite enthusiastically about how useful a particular idea or approach is. But then later that very same day, when I ask the group to summarise what they have learned from the course, they don’t mention the idea they were so very positive about only a few hours earlier – the useful idea or insight has slipped away already, before the course is even over! 
So, to prevent this ‘fading away’ learning needs to be consolidated. This means (i) continuing to think about the idea, insight or tool that you feel is helpful, developing your own ideas about how it can be used in practice; and then (ii) actually putting the idea(s) into practice. By trying them out you help to make the learning real. 
And this is what ‘learning consolidation’ is all about – translating abstract ideas you have come across into actual concrete practice. It is then more likely to stick with you. The next video gives you some examples of this.


Video 5.1: Consolidating the learning 

So far so good. You have been introduced to some new ideas that should be helpful and you now know that you will need to find ways of putting those ideas into practice so that you can consolidate that learning. But, that’s not all. What you now need to do is look at how you build on that learning, and that’s what the next video should help you to do.


Video 5.2: Building on the learning 

There is quite an irony in the fact that so many people who are very good at caring for others don’t do a very good job of caring for themselves. But it is very important indeed that, as a personal assistant, you not only do a good job of being caring towards others, but also get your own self-care right. If you neglect your own needs, you can end up causing problems not only for yourself and the person you support, but also other people in your life, people who would not want to see you get hurt or distressed. So, the ‘messages’ in this part of the guidebook are very important ones for you to take on board.
There is now a video made by the NHS with some fantastic tips about how to cope with stress at work.


Video 5.3: Coping with stress.