Tuesday, February 11, 2014

9 Signs You Have a Good Caregiver for Your Child Living With a Disability

9 Signs You Have a Good Caregiver for Your Child Living With a Disability
If you have a child with a disability and they have a personal care attendant or caregiver to assist them, then you probably have to manage the hiring and firing of people who will take care of your child.  It can be exhausting at times to find the right fit for your child and your family.  However, when you find a good caregiver, the whole family experiences less stress, more happiness, and a better quality of life.  Some indications that you have a good caregiver for your child are:
  1.        When she puts socks and shoes on your child, does she make sure the seam and sock are pulled on correctly, not twisted and awkward?  She knows how uncomfortable a twisted sock can be.  When she puts on her shoes, she makes sure they are just right, not too tight, and not too loose.  When she sees your child tugging on her shoes, she will double check to see if it’s on comfortably.  Seriously, who wants to walk around with twisted socks?  People who care will pay especially close attention to this.
  2.       When you see your attendant dress your child, she will make sure all the shoulders and arms of the shirt are straight and comfortable.  Just like the shoes and socks, she is aware how uncomfortable twisted clothes can be and she is truly concerned with the comfort of your child.  Especially in the winter months when we wear hoodies, extra layers, it’s just so frustrating to feel confined and unable to straighten out a twisted outfit.
  3.       Have you ever gone out to run a few errands or go to work and come home to find out that your child’s caregiver hasn't changed your child’s diaper, given her a drink, and the recently watched history on Netflix shows “Flashdance?”  Yep, that’s not a good caregiver and yes that’s happened to us.  A good caregiver is concerned with Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, does your child feel safe and cared for, and does she have access to a drink of water or food?  A good caregiver knows kids need water whether they have a disability or not.  A good caregiver knows that sitting in a soiled diaper cannot be comfortable.  Some things go without being said…. Water, food, and a dry diaper.  Come on people… do for that child like you would do for yourself.
  4.        Without being told, the caregiver takes your child out of the house.  She knows that people need fresh air and to see the world.  She knows that being cooped up in a house all day will drive anyone stir crazy.  And even just a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood is so refreshing.  People need to get out in the community and be around other people.
  5.        When your nonverbal child goes to the refrigerator, the caregiver tries to meet the child’s needs and desire to get in there… probably because she is hungry, not as a behavior.  People that pay attention to all aspects of your child’s behavior and communication are awesome.  Those caregivers WANT to communicate and meet the needs of your child.
  6.        How about some eye contact and talking… Does the caregiver treat your child like a person? Does she look in her eyes and face when your child is communicating? Yep, good signs they are a good caregiver.
    "she's my favorite person" ~ Emily
  7.        One sure way to know someone cares, if they have technology to do this, they will take many photos of your child throughout their time together.  Our most caring caregivers send me photos of our daughter while I’m not with her.   Also, the captions, will say something like “isn’t she beautiful” or “she’s my favorite person.”  You know you've got an amazing caregiver when you know they genuinely care for your child.
  8.        When our daughter can’t wait to sit next to her caregiver and hug and love on them, I know I’ve got a good person with her.  When your child runs away from people and fusses when the person tries to reach out and take care of them, you better trust your gut and know that person doesn’t “get” your child.  We all don’t connect and have chemistry.  It’s important to recognize that your child will connect with some people, but not others.  That’s OK
  9.        When your home is seen as a home, not a work place, and when caregivers come over, they show interest in your family and your child.  They know they are there to help the child and therefore that helps the family. 

These certainly aren't all of the qualities that make up a good caregiver, but empathy and understanding, and overall genuine concern that your child is cared for will show when you see the little acts of compassion through the actions of someone else toward a person who can’t speak for themselves.    
~ dedicated to Emily, Kim, and Meghan, thank you for all you do and have done for Sadie