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Being an Effective Workplace Assistant

Barrett (2003) discusses the importance of workplace personal assistants and how they can best support employees with significant disabilities in meaningful careers. Barrett reports, "Personal Assistants (PA's) and their ability to effectively provide essential supports at the workplace are extremely important to employment success for employees with a disability who utilize personal assistant services (PAS)."

Barrett describes some "do's and don'ts" for a workplace personal assistant. There is now a new set of challenges for persons providing personal assistance because providing this type of service in the home environment is very different from providing this type of support in a business environment. An individual must understand that their role in the work environment may be more formal than in the home and they will need to adapt to their new role in the work environment. Barrett reports, "Personal assistants must recognize the importance of maintaining a professional relationship with the employee and employee's supervisor while in the workplace." Another important task for the Personal Assistant is to establish an effective work routine. They should familiarize themselves with the employee's job tasks and production requirements in terms of quantity, quality, and timeliness of outputs.

Barrett (2003) presents five core attributes of an effective workplace Personal Assistant. They are reliability, punctuality, loyalty, honesty, and a commitment to effective communication with the employee receiving support. Barrett believes these are vital to a successful long-term employee-PA relationship.

Barrett (2003) believes, "It is critically important that Personal Assistants adjust to the unique requirements of different business environments." "Workplace PA's must have a high self-esteem and know their value to the employee without needing the gratification to share the spotlight." Barrett concludes, "Over the next decade, the refinement and recognition of the critical supports provided by the workplace PA will add a new dimension to addressing the employment support needs and expanding the employment opportunities of many individuals with a disability."


Barrett, J. C. (2003). Being an effective workplace personal assistant. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 18(1), 93-97. IOS Press - Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation