FAQ About Attendant Work
The Berkeley area has a large disability population which is internationally known for its advancements in independent living and disability rights. One of the keys to this group’s success has been the support provided by the students and community members who have worked as attendants for various people with disabilities.
This page contains answers to some of the questions that are asked by people who are considering attendant work.
View Public Service Announcements [Video]
1. What kinds of tasks does an attendant do for a disabled person?
Each disabled person is different in the kinds of tasks which he or she needs done. The tasks can range from running errands to light housekeeping to cooking to more personal care like dressing or grooming. A disabled person may hire various people to help with different tasks. People who are exploring attendant work often start in positions with simpler responsibilities and take on additional tasks/positions as they feel more comfortable with the work.
2. What kind of people make good attendants?
Some characteristics of a good attendant are:
- ability to follow directions
- good listening and communication skills
- reliability and dependability
- respect for the disabled individual’s right to do things their own way
Experience is often not necessary. In fact, many disabled people consider attitude more important than experience in selection of attendants; that is–willingness to listen and learn.
3. Is any special training needed to do attendant work?
Many attendant positions do not require special training since an attendant is not a nurse nor a therapist. Most disabled employers can teach a new attendant what they need to know.
4. What are the benefits of doing attendant work?
Though not everyone is cut-out for attendant work, for many people it is ideal.
- having a flexible schedule
- working with a person on a one-to-one basis
- opportunity for personal growth
- learning about persons with disabilities
- work which is socially meaningful
- steady income
- references which look good on resumes or on applications to med school, etc.
- some positions offer great opportunity for travel
5. What kind of pay is provided and how are attendants paid?
The range of pay is from minimum wage to more than $15/hour. The amount of pay usually depends on the type of work and who is paying. Some attendants are paid directly by the disabled person while other attendants are paid by the county government or private insurance.
6. What kind of time commitment is needed?
The amount of time commitment can vary significantly. Some disabled people only need help a couple of hours a week. Other disabled people need help for a few hours a day. Disabled people often need help in the morning or evening.
7. Are disabled people skilled at managing attendants?
There is a range of attendant management skills among members of the disability community. Many are very good because of the number of years they’ve been working with attendants. Others have lesser skills in this area. Like any employment situation, if one doesn’t work for you, there are others which might be more suitable.
8. If I am a smoker or prefer to be in a non-smoking environment, will that be an issue?
The issue of smoking is different for each position. When talking with a potential employer, be sure to mention any concerns you have with regard to smoking.
9. Who can I contact if I’m interested in doing attendant work or learning more about attendant work?
There are a number of ways to find attendant work in the Berkeley area:
- Public Authority Registry– 510 567-5694
- Craigslist http://sfbay.craigslist.org/dmg/
- Disabled Students Program at UC Berkeley (510) 642-0518
- The East Bay Express has a “help wanted” section for attendants
- The “help wanted” section of local newspapers