Caring for people with disabilities in a home environment is extremely valuable. By focusing on this model of support, we provide a disabled person with comfort, peace, and a sense of security that comes from knowing their own four corners. As part of this type of care, the caregiver lives together with the mentee, providing support around the clock, seven days a week. This comprehensive concern for the well-being of the disabled person guarantees that their every need will be quickly noticed and met. Out of concern for the health and comfort of the charges, it is worth emphasizing that disability includes a variety of diseases that require an individual approach.
Types of disability
However, before we dive deeper into the world of home care for people with disabilities, it is worth taking a moment to understand how diverse the needs of children can be. As previously mentioned, disability includes many conditions, from physical to intellectual, sensory, and mental. To provide the best possible care and support daily, specialist knowledge and skills are required for each type of disability. Here’s a quick guide to the different types of disabilities that can affect your loved one’s life and needs.
- muscular dystrophy,
- spinal disability (e.g. scoliosis),
- other diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
- Difficulty moving, instability of gait, lack of control over certain muscles, the need to use a wheelchair or crutches.
- Adaptation of the environment to the needs of a disabled person (e.g. no stairs, handrails), assistance in everyday activities, and rehabilitation.
- visual disability: including blindness, amblyopia,
- hearing disability: including deafness, hearing loss,
- Tactile disability: sensory impairments.
- Visual impairment: Blurred vision, difficulty reading, not noticing obstacles, difficulty performing daily activities.
- Hearing disability: Difficulty understanding speech, need to increase volume, lack of response to sounds.
Use of specialized equipment (e.g. hearing aids, magnifiers), learning alternative communication (e.g. sign language), and adjusting the environment.
Intellectual (mental) disability
- slight intellectual disability,
- moderate intellectual disability,
- severe intellectual disability,
- profound intellectual disability.
- Difficulties in learning, understanding complex instructions, and acquiring new skills.
- Individual educational approach, patience, concrete and clear communication, performing tasks supporting intellectual performance with the mentee.
- bipolar disorder,
- severe depression,
- other mental disorders.
- Mood swings, hallucinations, fears, difficulty concentrating.
- Monitoring medication intake, psychological support, creating a friendly atmosphere, understanding, and readiness to listen and give advice to seniors.
Disabilities associated with chronic internal diseases
- heart disease,
- asthma, chronic lung diseases,
- and others.
- Fatigue, pain, shortness of breath, frequent infections.
- Health monitoring, help with medication, adjusting diet.
- language disorders,
- non-verbal communication disorders.
- Difficulties in pronouncing words, understanding speech, communicating, and expressing one’s needs.
- Speech therapy, introducing the language from scratch, teaching words that the mentee encounters daily, learning alternative communication, and patience.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Related Disability
- Difficulties in communication (it is possible to have no communication at all), repetitive, self-stimulating behaviors, and narrowed areas of interest.
- Avoidance of schematic behavior, individual educational approach, therapeutic support, speech therapy.
Implicit disability: e.g. autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, certain mental illnesses.
- Coexistence of symptoms from different categories of disability.
- Complicated, it usually requires support from many areas.
- ADHD (attention deficit due to hyperactivity),
- Difficulties in reading, writing, mathematics, concentration, understanding sequences of commands, and performing tasks that require proper order.
- Specialized educational support, adjustment of materials, performing a large number of left-brain exercises, and patience.
Multiple disabilities: a person with more than one type of disability.
It is a type of disability that combines the symptoms of the others. It can be referred to in a situation where the symptoms of at least two types of disability coexist. Due to the multiplicity and interpenetration of symptoms belonging to different categories, a disabled person will require multifaceted assistance.
There are also many other types of disabilities. There are many caregivers on the care services portal with experience in caring for people with disabilities. Contact with them will make it possible to verify whether the competencies of the caregiver for the elderly correspond to the requirements of a disabled senior. This will allow you to choose the right caregiver for your loved one.
The story of Mr. Heinrich suffering from depression
Mr. Heinrich was involved in the construction of bridges in Dortmund for many years. Unfortunately, the times when he was a recognized professional remained only a memory. Shortly after his retirement, he experienced a painful loss—the death of his wife. It was a huge experience for him. The feelings of abandonment and loneliness kept him awake at night.
Mr. Heinrich’s family no longer wanted to see him suffer. They knew he needed support and companionship to overcome his depression. Therefore, the relatives decided to organize round-the-clock help for Mr. Heinrich, which consisted of constant care provided by a carer for the elderly and disabled. Ms. Ewa, an experienced carer of people with disabilities, came from Poland to support Mr. Heinrich in everyday activities.
She had a lot of empathy and extraordinary patience. She knew that the elderly man’s depression wasn’t just the result of aging, but of the loss he had experienced.
One day, it was Ewa who came up with the idea of reviving Mr. Heinrich’s old passion. She suggested that they build a model of the bridge together – the one he had designed in his youth. Initially, the elderly gentleman was skeptical, but the caregiver kept making repeated proposals until the senior decided to start the project.
As the first elements of the model began to come together, something began to awaken in Mr. Heinrich that had been deeply hidden until then. Hands that had once been trembling were now arranging small pieces of wood with precision. The eyes that had stared into the void most of the time now glowed with joy and determination.
When the bridge was completed, Mr. Heinrich tearfully hugged Eve. He knew that it was not only a bridge that had been built, but a bridge between the past and the present, between sadness and hope.
Thanks to the caregiver, joy returned to Mr. Heinrich’s life. This first modeling project became the beginning of many others.
The story of Mr. Heinrich shows how important the mission of caring for an elderly person is. This, often underestimated, profession brings a lot of benefits to the health and well-being of seniors in various corners of the world.
Features that are needed to care for a person with disabilities
- Empathy — the ability to empathize with the other person’s situation, to understand their feelings and needs.
- Patience – Caring for someone with disabilities can be time-consuming and require you to repeat certain steps.
- Communication skills
- Ability to convey information clearly and comprehensively and listen.
- Understanding – accepting and understanding the specifics of the disability of the person being cared for.
- Stress resilience – the ability to cope with difficult situations without losing your cool.
- Adaptability – the ability to adapt to changing situations and needs of the person in care.
- Discipline – The ability to maintain routine and regularity, which can be crucial for some people with disabilities.
- Organizational skills – planning and managing daily chores, and setting priorities.
- Physical stamina – Often caring for a disabled person requires physical activities, such as lifting.
- Yielding – understanding that you don’t always know best, and being able to listen to your mentee’s suggestions and opinions.
- Learning—a willingness to learn and learn new skills that can help with care.
- Professionalism – maintaining appropriate distance and ethics at work, respecting the privacy of the mentee.
- Cooperation – the ability to work in a team with other specialists and the mentee’s family.
- Sense of humor – the ability to see the bright side and bring light to difficult situations.
- Intuition — the ability to sense the needs and feelings of the mentee, even if they are not communicated.
Of course, the ideal caregiver is a person who combines many of these qualities. Often, it is human qualities, such as empathy or a sense of humor, that make someone a special caregiver. However, it is good to remember that we are all only human and no one is perfect. Nevertheless, the desire to develop and become better is an extremely valuable trait of a caregiver.
Advantages of home care
Care in the place of residence offers above all comfort and safety. In this model, care is provided at the home of the disabled person, which is the basis for maintaining their daily habits and routines. This not only facilitates the caregiver’s work but above all provides the mentee with a feeling of stability. What’s more, easy access to loved ones is an invaluable advantage – the family can visit the person they care for at any time, which is of great importance for their well-being. In addition, the familiar environment in which a disabled person has spent most of their life allows them to adapt more easily to new circumstances related to the need to rely on the help of others. In such an environment, it is easier to build a relationship with the caregiver and open up to the help they offer.