Being a CDPAP caregiver for a special needs individual can be overwhelming. To smoothly navigate the challenges, the families of these individuals often opt to bring a special needs caregiver on board.
If you’re interested in becoming a special needs caregiver, first learn about what the role entails. Then, go over the skills and qualifications expected from a special needs caregiver.
What Do Special Needs Caregivers Do?
Adults and children with physical, intellectual, and emotional disabilities may be unable to do everyday tasks on their own. For instance, these individuals may need assistance with eating, bathing, and going to the toilet. This is where a special needs caregiver comes in. You provide them with the support they need for these tasks.
You may also need to follow a specific treatment plan for the special needs child or adult. The treatment plan explains in detail how you can best help the patient.
Often, your duties are not limited to in-home care. You may also need to take the client to various activities, like school and doctor’s visits.
As a special needs caregiver, your goal is to make daily life as easy as possible for your patient. Next, let’s go through the specific tasks involved in doing this.
Tasks of a Special Needs Caregiver
Your tasks as a special needs caregiver include:
· Feeding the patient
· Preparing and serving nutritious meals and snacks
· Helping with hygiene tasks such as bathing, brushing teeth, and grooming
· Toileting tasks
· Doing housework
· Overseeing daily activities
· Administering medication based on the doctor’s instructions
· Assisting with therapeutic procedures to improve physical mobility
· Taking the patient to the doctor as needed
· Dealing with emergencies through the correct application of first aid procedures
· Providing emotional support to the patient as needed
Now that you know what a special needs caregiver does, let’s take a closer look at the skills needed for the job.
Skills Needed to Be a Special Needs Caregiver
Caregivers must master a range of skills to do their job efficiently. Here are six skills a special needs caregiver needs to succeed.
Communication: You must have excellent oral and written communication skills. These skills can help you properly interact with your patient. You must also work closely with the patient’s family and doctor to talk about treatment plans.
Compassion: This is the ability to empathize with a patient and feel a desire to help him or her. Special needs caregivers must be compassionate to provide their patients with the best quality of care possible.
Patience: Your disabled client may not always be in the best spirits. For instance, he or she may be ill-tempered or moody. You must be able to stay calm in stressful situations to avoid adding to the patient’s distress.
Time Management: You’ll have a lot on your plate as a special needs caregiver, especially since the job often requires some housework. You must be able to prioritize tasks to make the most of your shift.
Physical Capability: Caregiving requires a considerable amount of physical strength. Tasks such as bathing adult patients and assisting with physical therapy sessions require caregivers to be physically fit.
Observation: Your patient can’t always tell you what he or she needs. You must keep a keen eye on any changes in their disposition or condition. Being observant of the patient’s environment is also crucial in ensuring his or her safety. This may involve taking care of likely hazards for tripping or falling.
You might have all these skills, but are you qualified to work as a special needs caregiver? Keep reading to learn more about the qualifications expected from caregivers.
Qualifications to Be a Special Needs Caregiver
· Education: Special needs caregivers must have at least a high school diploma or GED. A college degree in behavioral studies, social work, counseling, and other related fields may also be helpful to caregivers.
· Experience working with people with disabilities: Many primary caregiving tasks, such as feeding, maintaining good hygiene, and administering medications, can be perfected through practice. Previous experience in caring for special needs individuals can give you an advantage.
· Passing a physical exam: Passing a physical exam serves as proof of good health. A physical exam also assures your prospective employer that you can consistently perform the duties of a special needs caregiver.
· Passing a background check: Most employers and agencies run background checks on caregiver candidates. Apart from criminal records, employment history, credit history, and driver’s records are also screened during a background check.
· Clinical knowledge: Special needs caregivers aren’t expected to provide complex medical support or care. However, it is beneficial to know how to perform first-aid procedures, including CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, and wound treatment. CPR and first-aid certification can also give you an edge as a special needs caregiver.
· Direct Support Professionals Exam: You may need to take a Direct Support Professional Exam, depending on your employer. Passing this exam proves that you’re ready to support persons with disabilities.
After confirming the qualifications of being a special needs caregiver, you may be curious to find out how much you can earn working as one. Let’s look into the salary of people who work with patients with special needs.
Special Needs Caregivers’ Salary
As of 2021, home health and personal care aides and workers in related professions in the U.S. earn an average of $12 to $14 per hour. This comes out to an average annual salary of $26,000 to $28,000.
The salary range of a special needs caregiver depends on different factors. There may be opportunities for better pay depending on your location, skill level, and experience.
Work As a Special Needs Caregiver
There are no specific certification requirements for special needs caregivers. However, you need to be mindful of caregiver certification requirements, which vary from one state to another. Some states require certification courses, while others don’t.
It’s best to thoroughly research your state’s caretaker certification requirements to make sure that you’re on the right track