If you’re considering careers in disability services, or if you are already a disability caregiver, you probably know that no two individuals are the same. Even if two people share the same disability, every individual is unique, with their own desires, goals, and interests.
While no two individuals are the same, we’ve gathered five tips you can apply to ensure you’re giving your clients the best care possible.
1. Be a Good Listener
When working with individuals with disabilities, it is important to listen closely and actively to what the individual wants and needs. What this means will vary from client to client. For any client, sitting or standing at eye level and making eye contact are the foundation for quality communication. Be sure to speak in the same way that you would speak to any person, whether or not they have a disability.
If a client does not communicate verbally, you will need to adapt and notice their needs when they communicate without words. Work with them to develop a communication strategy that plays to their strengths, like nodding, blinking, or writing notes.
The final key to active listening is to confirm you have understood your client. Repeat what you understood and note their reactions. If you misunderstood, ask for clarification and try again.
2. Emphasize Strengths Instead of Weaknesses
Focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses brings out the best in anyone, including individuals with disabilities. Who wants to think about their shortcomings all day?
While self improvement and awareness are important for personal development, when working with individuals with disabilities, focusing on strengths is likely to make your client feel heard, valued, and confident.
Personal strengths will vary client to client. Before your next appointment, ask yourself: what is this person really good at? Maybe they’re great with animals. Maybe they’re always making you laugh. Maybe they write short stories or songs. Then, ask if they’d like to incorporate more of whatever they’re good at into their daily routine.
3. Do Your Research
Before meeting a new client for the first time, it is important to do some research on their disability. T