Consumer-Directed Attendant Referral Pool


A serious problem in personal assistant service has been attendant turnover. A lot of this turnover results from the many employment disincentives assistants experience, which include low pay, irregularity of payment, too few hours, low job status, and virtually no opportunity for advancement.

Purpose and Anticipated Benefits

By setting up a referral pool to screen assistants and provide increased employment and hours for potential attendants, turnover may decrease.


Gary Ulicny and Lynda Powell, both with the Research and Training Center on Independent Living, with Bob Mikesic, Independence, Inc., established a consumer-directed attendant screening and referral service with an emergency back-up system at Independence, Inc., a center for independent living, in Lawrence, Kansas.




Attendant referral pools usually are organized by a human services agency such as a center for independent living that maintains an attendant directory. When consumers need an attendant, they contact the agency, and the agency provides them with a list of prospective assistants.


This system used consumer volunteers to maintain the referral pool, therefore decreasing agency staff time and consumer dependence.


Referral pools require a great deal of staff time to organize, generate a consumer dependency on the agency, and may create liability risks for sponsoring agencies.


The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Independent Living, The University of Kansas. (1988). Consumer-directed attendant referral pool. Lawrence, KS: Author.