Parting with Your Personal Care Attendant - Reeve Foundation

Periods of employment with PCAs run the gamut from weeks to months and even years. There are many reasons you may need to part ways with a PCA and vice versa. As with any job, PCAs may move on and leave you for other opportunities. Your PCA may move, need full-time work or have finished an educational degree that leads them in a different employment path. If you established the expectation that you would like two weeks notice, this may give you time to find a replacement before your current caregiver leaves.

If you do find yourself at odds with your caregiver’s methods or work ethic, you will need to address it with them firsthand to correct the situation or if need be, terminate their employment. Sometimes you may need to let go of your PCA because of poor job performance. Hopefully you outlined what a separation may look like and made a list of causes of immediate termination when you hired your PCA. Causes often include substance abuse/drunkenness, failure to show up and/or call out for a shift, violence, abuse, and abandoning a shift without good cause.

Corrective Actions

As outlined in the second post of this PCA blog series, you must immediately address unacceptable actions and document when problems arise for your caregiver to sign and date. Don’t sweep it under the rug. Address the matter at hand and take preventative steps to ensure it doesn’t continue. After multiple failed attempts to correct the conduct, report complaints to your agency if using one so they can take appropriate action. If you are the employer, gather necessary documentation to prepare for their dismissal.

Confirmation of Misconduct

You must have confidence in your PCA that they are providing the care that you deserve. Whether there is an issue of theft, mental/physical abuse or even problems with punctuality and meals, if your PCA is impeding your quality of living, it’s time to let them go. Be sure to have a policy in place or terms outlined in your contract regarding proper procedures PCAs must follow as well as areas where employers can dismiss caregivers for gross misconduct. For instance, how controlled substances are to be stored and accessed. You should also have a system or help from family to be able to monitor theft of substances. When physical abuse or theft of any kind exists, contact the police and file a report. Use these documents to obtain a new PCA if working with an agency or to terminate him/her if you are the employer.

Termination Procedure

As with hiring a PCA, there are necessary procedures to follow when firing a caregiver. For safety reasons, speak with them over the phone or have a friend or family member present, depending on the severity of the problem as well as your comfort level with the PCA. Please note that if you terminate over the phone, you will not have a chance to get keys back or have the PCA sign papers acknowledging the termination. Create a separation agreement that references the issues, attempts to correct as well as any previously acknowledged documents noting the fireable offense(s) for both parties to sign. It may defuse the termination process if you have the PCA’s last pay available to give him or her on the spot so there is no reason for them to return. You can also consider paying them for one hour of time as they showed up for their shift on the day you let them go.

If the PCA used house or car keys, research the cost for having the locks and possibly the ignition changed/reprogrammed immediately. Be sure to update all keyless entry access such as passcodes or programmable locks as well. Don’t forget about changing passwords your caregiver may have utilized, including all WiFi-enabled accounts (e.g., email, smartphones and news/entertainment subscriptions).

If you are the employer, know that your caregiver may file and be eligible for unemployment benefits, even if they are let go with cause. It is important to document any causes properly in case a claim is filed. If unemployment benefits are approved, this may increase your future unemployment tax rate, so be sure to review the claim carefully to ensure accuracy.

Personal Care Attendants are wonderful resources to help you live your life to the fullest. Though it might be intimidating, finding the right PCA can offer improved independence and quality of life. Spending time to hire, train and manage your caregiver, while fostering an open communication environment, will result in a positive experience and rewarding relationship.

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About the Author - Reeve Staff

This blog was written by the Reeve Foundation for educational purposes. For more information please reach out to

Reeve Staff

The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.