Thursday, August 7, 2014

Advice: Respite & Being Carried

If you have a disability and need to be lifted to and from your chair or upstairs I would love your advice. I’m going to be a respite care provider for an 8 year old boy with severe cerebral palsy and he needs to be carried if he’s not in his chair. He’s nonverbal so I can’t really ask him, is there anyway to make the process more comfortable or easier for you? Do you have any tips? Thanks!

I have CP, and I don't need to be lifted and carried, in general.  However, I have experienced surgery and recovery where I did have to rely on others to be lifted and carried.  I've been reliant on others while in the water (I can't swim) and for long distances.

While I would definitely recommend hearing from someone who has to be lifted and carried on a more daily basis, like you described, I thought I'd offer a few things that always made me feel safer when I did have to rely on others to go from one place to another:

1) Be sure you  spend time with your client, getting to know him as a person, his likes and dislikes (things apart from his physical and medical needs.)

2)  Take your client's cues regarding touch.  He may be nonverbal, but that does not mean he is not communicating with you.  I'm sure that, soon, you will learn when he's happy, and when he's sad, and when he's upset.  Start small and gradually work your way to lifting and carrying.  Ask your client if it's okay before the touching him, lifting him, or carrying him (yes or no - if he can do something like blink for yes, and not blinking for no.  If not, pay attention to other things.  Is he smiling?  Or is he crying and  does he seem nervous?  If so, respect that he is not ready for whatever the next step is with regard to contact.)

3) Spend lots of time with your client AND their parent, so he can feel safe with you. 

4) Personal power is super important to kids with disabilities.  Let him choose between two things whenever possible.  And be patient,  It can take concentration and energy to get our bodies to do what our brains are telling them to do.  If you ask him a question, give him the courtesy of giving him the time to respond however he can.

That's all I've got at this time - again, though, I'd definitely see if anyone who is in your son's shoes responds.  It's always best to get advice from someone who's been there.

Hope this helps!