Providing care to disabled individuals requires a certain skill set along with specific personality traits.
If your job is to provide care to one or more disabled patients, it’s important that you do what you can to become the best caregiver possible.
This article outlines some of the most basic skills and traits that caregivers of disabled patients should possess in order to provide the highest level of care possible for their patients.
Keep reading to learn more about how to develop or enhance your caregiver skills to work with disabled patients.
What type of personality is needed to work with a disabled person?
Working with disabled individuals requires a positive attitude and certain personality traits. Do you have what it takes to work with disabled patients?
Below are five of the most important personality characteristics that you need to have in order to be successful working closely with this population:
● Cheerful Disposition
Though everyone has days when they feel down and blue, some people have very bright personalities and a naturally cheerful disposition. If you tend to be optimistic, this is a good trait that melds well in caregiving work with disabled patients.
Some disabled patients may find it difficult to stay cheerful, so having a caregiver with an optimistic attitude can be helpful.
But while optimism is important, empathy is too! If your patient is depressed or feeling low, caregivers should show understanding and be capable of tuning into the difficulties they’re facing.
Optimism is not the same thing as denial!
If your patient is depressed or demonstrating other signs of mental illness, be sure to contact a professional to assist and provide care, if needed.
● Empathy, Kindness, and Understanding
Disabled patients have to overcome struggles that you may have never dreamed of facing, so it’s absolutely vital that you have a strong sense of empathy and understanding when working with them.
The ability to imagine their situation and how you would feel if the tables were turned is an important skill. And the ability to show kindness as a result of this empathy will make you a gold-star professional.
Disabled patients may feel frustrated with themselves or with the limitations they face in the world. As a caregiver, you can make an effort to understand these limitations and how to overcome them to improve your patient’s quality of life.
● Organized but Flexible
If you’re meticulous in the way that you organize things, but also are able to adapt to changes in your original design or plan, these are important traits for working with disabled people.
Organization creates a sense of safety within a space, but the ability to adapt to changing schedules and emergent situations will allow you to deal with the unpredictability involved with disability.
The ability to organize material quickly while maintaining a flexible approach will help you change course as needed and find solutions to problems in a pinch. These are essential skills when working with the disabled population!
● Peaceful and Calming
Some people are naturally very calm while other people are like firecrackers! If you have the type of personality that creates peace wherever you are, then you would work well with disabled individuals. On the other hand, if you get easily flustered, disabled patients may not be a good fit for you. If you tend to keep your cool, even when you’re under pressure, caregiving for the disabled is a job that you probably would enjoy.
If you have a passion for working with disabled patients, that can go a long way in the caregiving profession!
Many people who work closely with disabled individuals feel like this type of work is their calling. If that’s your story, there are tons of career opportunities available working with the disabled as a profession.
What are the duties of a caregiver for disabled people?
Special needs caregivers who provide care and assistance to disabled adults and children perform tasks related to Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). These ADLs may vary from patient-to-patient depending on the needs of the disabled individual, but they could include any of the following:
● Providing medication reminders
● Assistance with moving around the house
● Cooking and meal preparation
● Light cleaning and housekeeping
● Assistance with getting dressed
● Transportation assistance to doctor’s appointments
● Providing companionship
There are a wide variety of different types of disabilities that patients may have and caregivers who work with the disabled population will have to adapt their approach to each individual patient.
Patients with mental disabilities will require a different set of skills and assistance than patients with physical disabilities, for example. So, when you’re hired to work as a caregiver for a disabled patient, the types of tasks you’ll be called on to perform could vary considerably from one patient to another.
No matter what type of disability your patient has, as a caregiver, your goal is to make your patient’s life better. Though patients may not be able to perform certain tasks by themselves, whenever they’re able to do their ADLs independently, caregivers should allow them to do so. Provide encouragement for independence, but always be available to provide help when needed. The goal of being a home caregiver is always to foster independence in patients.
The Importance of Knowing About the Disability of Your Patient
Knowing about your patient’s disability or disabilities is absolutely essential for caregivers. Having knowledge that your patient has a disability is simply not enough.
You must know what specific disability they have, the details of how it affects them, and how they prefer to treat/manage their disability. Without knowing these details, it will be nearly impossible for you to provide high quality, compassionate care for your patient.
No matter what disability your patient has, it is your job as the caregiver to understand their situation and to provide care, support, and assistance in the specific ways that they require.
Caregiving can already pose many challenges to the caregiver, but when the caregiver does not know the details of a patient’s disability, certain miscommunications may occur. Because miscommunications can be uncomfortable (or painful in certain cases), it is extremely important that the caregiver works to understand the ins and outs of a patient’s disability so that they can avoid these miscommunications and continue learning how they can best support their patient.
How to Help Make Your Patient Not Feel Disabled and Helpless
Disabled patients often require a lot of help, and though it is the caregiver’s job to help patients with daily living activities, it is also the caregiver’s responsibility to provide the patient with emotional support in regard to their disability. Helping your patient to not feel helpless or disabled can be a difficult task in some situations, but it is by no means impossible. Here are some ways to help your patient feel empowered:
● Focus more on what your patient can do, rather than on what they cannot do (provide positive feedback when your patient does something independently).
● Allow and encourage the disabled person to answer questions about themselves and to speak on their own behalf whenever possible.
● Set reasonable development/independence-related milestones and celebrate when they are reached .
● Encourage your patient to perform tasks independently where to do so is safe and appropriate.
● Use supportive language like “you can do it” to show that you will not give up on them and that you will support them.
● Encourage your patient to socialize with other individuals in a similar situation as them and individuals who are in a different position (support groups and meetups are good places to socialize).
● Give the disabled person information about their situation and about your actions in supporting them whenever possible (providing information rather than keeping it from the person will help them feel more involved).
There are many ways to help a disabled individual feel and become more empowered, and these are just a few key ways to do so. As a caregiver, you will develop a closer relationship with your patient and you will be able to understand specifically what they need better over time.
The Importance of Medication Management for Your Disabled Patient
Medication management is one of the biggest responsibilities of any caregiver. Some patients may have many medications while others will have only a few, but no matter the number of medications they are taking, ensuring that the patient takes their pills at the right times and in the right way is essential.
If medications are given improperly, there can be severe consequences, so this is one of the most important caregiver duties.
Here are some of ways to ensure that you manage your patient’s medications correctly and successfully:
● Keep notes – when your patient starts a new medication or quits an old one, when you notice a new behavior or a lack of a different behavior, or when you have given the patient their daily medications, make a note. Having a dedicated notebook available for notes on your patient’s medications will ensure that you don’t forget or overlook an important detail.
● Set timers on more than one device/in more than one way (and keep notes on your timers) – this way, you’ll remember when and how to provide a particular medication.
● Place the medication in a secure but accessible location (for you). Keeping medications out of reach of the disabled person is generally advisable, but as the caregiver, you need to be able to get to them easily.
● Ask for help and advice from other experienced caregivers and medical professionals for tips and essential details of how to manage your patient’s medications.
Because medication management is so important, this is often one of the things that caregivers must learn about first. Mastering your patient’s medication management system is vital to their health and well-being, so make this a priority when you start working with a new patient.