Finding a Caregiver for an Adult with Special Needs
Millions of children with special needs subsequently become adults that require special care. The term “special needs” in this regard refers to a wide range of conditions. The adult may suffer from a developmental condition such as autism or Down’s syndrome or, they may suffer from a chronic or systemic illness. Whatever the situation, finding a care giver for an adult with special needs is a daunting task. We offer the following suggestions the next time you are looking for a caregiver.
Cast your net wide
Begin by asking your friends and colleagues. There may be someone in your circle of friends that has recently hired a caregiver in the past. Also, check Craigslist and local service agencies.
Phone Screen before Inviting for Interview
Formulate a number of questions which you can ask the candidates on phone. The questions will vary based on the person who needs the care, the hours you want them to work, your budget and the responsibilities you want them to fulfill. The best way to screen in this manner is to have a spreadsheet where you can place a tick or x based on the response you get for each question.
Invite Screened Candidates to Interview
One you have finalized the phone screener; invite the shortlisted candidates for a face-to-face meeting. It is a good idea to have the individual that needs care to be present during the meeting. This allows you to gauge their initial impression about the candidate. The last thing you would want is to hire a candidate that individual despises from the onset. Also, encourage the candidate to talk so that they can open up. Be keen to listen and take note of the kinds of questions that they ask you.
See how the Candidate Communicates with the Special Needs Adult
The key thing here is to evaluate how your special needs adult and the candidate communicate. If things progress well from the onset, ask the individual to show the candidate around the house. Follow them, watch and listen. See how the candidate tries to engage. Does s/he speak at the right pace? Does s/he ask questions? What does the caregiver do if a question is not answered? Take note that the language used needs to be respectful and match the special needs adult capabilities.
Is there heart in the right place?
Irrespective of their education or background, the caregiver should have a mindset of putting people with disabilities first. What is their motivation for seeking a job caring for an adult with special needs? Use probing questions to peel apart their mindset and real intentions for seeking a job of this nature. Closely related to this is to find out if they have the mental and physical stamina for the job. Caring for adults with special needs requires lots of patience. Also, if your adult is confined to a wheelchair, the caregiver must be strong enough, literally, to fold a wheelchair, lift it into a car and push it around.
Special Needs Experience & References
Finally, as with all jobs, anyone with prior experience should always be at an advantage provided the pay they seek is within your budget. Further, experience needs to be great experience. For example, ask them how they dealt with the most challenging behavior they ever faced.
Get several reference checks and if all check out, hire the caregiver.