Project spotlight: Understanding personal assistance services experiences in rural states

photo of person in wheelchair with someone standing next to them.

May 7, 2020

Dr. Rayna Sage and Lillie Greiman are conducting a one-year project exploring how personal assistance services (PAS) are provided in rural areas. Specifically:

  • What barriers do PAS workers experience delivering rural PAS services?
  • What strategies do PAS workers use to overcome barriers delivering rural PAS services?

Census data will help answer these questions. Unpublished data indicates rural areas have fewer personal assistance services workers, compared to people with disabilities than urban areas.

Further, the PAS worker to people with self-care needs ratio across the United States will be mapped, highlighting geographic disparities in the existence of workers for people needing personal assistance services. Participatory photo mapping will be used to explore the experiences of rural personal assistance service workers in Alaska, Arizona, and Montana. In this phase, 24 workers will take photos and explain how they represent their work experiences.

This study is a collaboration between researchers at the Rural Institute at the University of Montana, and Susan Chapman, Laura Wagner, and Timothy Bates at University of California San Francisco. The findings will be shared with the Bureau of Health Workforce to further the Health Resources and Services Administration’s mission to use research to inform policy regarding rural PAS.