People use wheelchairs for many different reasons. Wheelchairs enable freedom of mobility to many people. If you are interacting with a wheelchair user for the first time, it can be difficult to know how to act. You don’t want to accidentally offend someone, but at the same time, you want to be helpful and understanding. The most important thing to remember is people who use wheelchairs are no different from you. Here are a few tips to help make sure you are respectful to those using a wheelchair. Avoid making presumptions about their abilities. Being in a wheelchair does not mean the person is paralyzed or incapable of taking any steps. Some people only use wheelchairs because they can’t stand for extended periods of time, or have a walking restriction problem. If you are curious, it is far better to ask than to assume. Ask in a manner that the person can decline, if they so choose. For example, “Do you mind my asking why you use a wheelchair?” Only ask a wheelchair user why, once you’ve become familiar with them. This is not an appropriate question to ask a stranger. Speak directly to a person using a wheelchair. If a person is in a wheelchair and is accompanied by someone else, involve that person in the conversation, but do not ignore the person in the wheelchair. Do not assume that the person in the wheelchair can’t speak for themselves. If you are in a long conversation, sit down. It is easier for everyone if you can look at each other in the eyes. Ask permission before touching the user or their wheelchair. Patting or leaning on the chair may be interpreted as disrespectful. The person may be using a wheelchair because of an injury, so your touch may be painful. Treat the wheelchair as an extension of a person’s body. If you wouldn’t normally touch someone’s shoulder, then don’t put your hand on their wheelchair. Always respect another person’s personal space. CSCSO wants to help bridge the gap between those with and without disabilities. We provide quality disability advocacy to our community. Reach out to us today if we can provide services for you or someone you know.
Being a caregiver is hard work. Everyday, there is a new obstacle to face and overcome. Here are five tips and considerations to be more effective to make your role a little easier. Knowledge is power. Realize there are many opportunities for mistakes along the way: by you, your doctor, the pharmacy, the hospital, or the lab. We are all human. Being aware that you may not understand as well as you think you do, or that doctors make mistakes, can help you be the best caregiver you can be. Remember that knowledge is power. Avoid the temptation to bury your head in the sand! Be involved. It is vital that you are fully engaged in the process. Don’t just sit back and assume someone else will manage things for you. You must be the captain of the ship. Effective communication between the patient, caregiver and physician leads to better outcomes. Be prepared and stay organized. Doctors are often rushed seeing numerous patients in time limited spots. Being organized is vital to an efficient visit. Have a folder to keep track of your questions, forms, medications, recommendations and test results. Always bring patient medical records with you, along with insurance or Medicare information. Pay close attention to all medications. Medication is often a critical component of a treatment plan, yet so many struggles to follow medication regiments. Not following instructions, not completing a medicine or taking wrong dosage, can lead to adverse health effects and often, new problems for the patient and the caregiver. Talk to the pharmacist if you have questions, use pill organizers to create a system, and always carry a full list of medications the patient is currently taking. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Stay connected with family and friends, as you continue your role as a caregiver. Think about your needs and reach out to your community. Resist the urge to become isolated or think you can do this alone. CSCSO can help with any advice or needs that you may have. We provide disability support and provide a community for which people can thrive.
Is the problem money or lack of caretakers? Eriech Tapia wrote a story for News OK explaining that although Developmental Disability services might be cut, the real problem is that there are not enough people wanting to become caretakers. The following story explains more. People who work in the Department of Human Services' Developmental Disability Services department take care of more than 5,500 disabled in the state, while managing a waiting list for services that continues to grow and a labor shortage among providers due to low pay. Possible cuts could also jeopardize the 7,548 people who are on a more than 10-year waiting list to receive benefits through a program administered through DHS called the Medicaid Home and Community Services Waiver. It's a federally funded program that requires the state to pay between 20 and 40 percent of its total budget. Cuts also could hurt the 1,200 people who receive state-funded benefits through the Department of Human Services' Developmental Disabilities Services department. The program is funded by about 60 percent from Medicaid and 40 percent from the state. "It is a major concern for us," said Marie Moore, interim director of the Developmental Disabilities Services at DHS. The DDS department is facing budget cuts that could range from $3.9 million to reduce services to $11.8 million to eliminate services, creating a ripple effect among partner nonprofits that contract with DHS who could lose some or all of their employees. "We are having difficulties, as it is, finding employees to work at the wages we pay due to the insufficient reimbursement rates," said Lara Morrison, executive director of the Central State Community Services Oklahoma Overseeing a home with three people who are immobile, Shantene Gordon has worked with the nonprofit for more than 14 years and is paid $10.50 per hour as a home supervisor, working upward of 48 hours a week. A regular caretaker in a home is paid a maximum of $8.50 per hour, which could mean living in poverty for a parent supporting two children, she said. "If you get somebody that sticks around for years in this job, you are doing lucky because a lot of the time people just come in, get trained and they are gone," Gordon said. Gordon blames the state and federal governments for neglecting to adequately fund Developmental Disability Services at DHS. Reimbursement from DHS pays for staff, transportation and therapy. The cost of room and board is paid by a resident's Social Security income.Inc. "We are a bare-bones employer," Morrison said. Less than 1 percent of her staff are administrators. Further cuts could force Morrison to scale back on services to individuals in homes across the state, but she said that forcing people over to private-pay options would not work. "There are so few people out there who can afford private-pay," said Morrison. Those costs for various types of service average around $15 an hour, she said. "If the funding stops, we stop." The share that the state must pay [...]