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Cathy Ludlum

PCA user testimonial

What having a personal assistant means to someone with a disability

Cathy Ludlum says her whole world opened up after she began hiring personal care assistants. This is her story:

I knew that my mother would not be able to support me forever. I also knew that if I wanted to move into my own home, I would need to find other people to assist me with all the things I could not do for myself. At first I was terrified. It seemed an incredible risk to entrust my survival, my personal space, my van, and intimate knowledge about my life to people I did not know.

Soon, however, I learned that I could find good, dependable people to work for me. Since I understood what I needed, the most important thing was to find people who were willing to listen to my directions. Further, by spreading out my support needs among more people, I was safer than when I was relying on only one person.

Then a funny thing happened. After so many years of having my mother know literally everything I did, I started having a life that was truly my own. My assistant could come in, wash my hair, change my clothes, and take me out in my van, and my mother didn’t have to be involved at all!

As my career expanded, I was invited to travel and speak about what I was learning. Personal care assistants went with me. They supported me in airplanes, in hotels, and at conferences, as well as doing sightseeing. I was far from home, and far from Mom; but I was safe, independent, and happy because of the excellent support of my assistants.

When I moved into my own home in 1992, it became especially important that I hire personal care assistants who were reliable, and who would enjoy being part of my life. People who thought of it simply as a "job" usually moved on after a year or two. But those who really understood the importance of what they were doing often stayed five years or more. Some even became lifelong friends.

The whole world opened up for me when I started hiring personal care assistants. Without their commitment and support, I could not have an active and independent life.

Read Debbie's story.

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