Caregivers for Children with Cerebral Palsy
While cerebral palsy is not progressive, it is a lifelong condition. Those with cerebral palsy can work to improve their abilities through surgery or treatments such as physical therapy, but some children may require extra support, care, and assistance.
For many working families and single parents, it may not be feasible to provide around-the-clock care while still providing for your family financially. For these families, an in-home caregiver can be a blessing.
A caregiver is someone who is properly trained to take care of the physical (as well as emotional) needs of a person with disabilities. They assist the child in daily activities such as administering medication, feeding, hygiene, physical therapy, education and play, and often spend a good part of each day with the child.
Finding a Good Caregiver for Your Child
When looking for a caregiver, you need to consider a few important things. Most-importantly, you should seek out those with considerable experience caring for young children with cerebral palsy. There are unique challenges associated with CP, and it’s very important to find someone who is familiar with your child’s condition, has exceptional patience, and knows what to expect.
Choosing a caregiver for your child is a very important decision, as they will likely have a big impact on your child’s mental and physical development. It’s important to always check their credentials, contact their references (speak with previous clients if possible), and ask tough questions during the interview process.
Many caregivers work independently, but there are also companies who focus on matching families with caregivers. There may even be resources in your state which may be able to help (sometimes even financially).
What Caregivers Do
There is no “one size fits all” strategy to caring for a special needs child, and as such, the responsibilities of a caregiver can range widely depending on the specific needs of your child. Some children require ’round-the-clock care, while others may only need supervision and minor assistance for a few hours a day.
Because some children with CP may not have complete control of their muscles, caregivers often help with daily tasks such a hygiene (e.g., bathing, dressing, brushing teeth, grooming, using the restroom), meal planning and feeding, engaging in conversation to help improve communication, and much much more.
If your child has specific needs, be sure to communicate this to any potential caregivers early on in the process. Ask about their experience, their availability, their policies and philosophy, and explain your goals and expectations when it comes to your child. Bring up real-world hypothetical situations and ask how they would respond. It’s better to ask as many questions as possible before you make a hiring decision.
A Final Word
Caregivers are a special breed; they should have the patience and fortitude to deal with special needs children since they will undoubtedly run into many obstacles on any given day. Therefore, as a parent, choose someone with a positive attitude who actually enjoys working with children and is passionate about helping people with disabilities.