Care Providers: The Guardians of our Independence
Written by: Jason Peterson, Front Desk Receptionist, Skils’kin
I sit in amazement when friends or coworkers tell the stories of their whirlwind morning routines. Unencumbered movement fascinates me. The idea that in a matter of minutes, someone could move through their environment with relative ease, while wiping the sleep from their eyes, tucking some coffee grounds in their cheek, and navigate through their bathroom routine like an automated car wash on overdrive, and do it all with relatively no recollection of the steps that got them to work or class, is downright mesmerizing!
Anyone with a physical disability, myself included, will tell you, “That’s the stuff I fantasize about!” The reality for us is vastly different. In most cases, our morning begins with our care providers arriving to work. If for any reason that person is late or, in the worst-case scenario, cannot arrive at all, the rest of our day is at best in limbo and at worst rendered completely moot.
The true value of the care provider in the lives of the people they care for cannot be overstated. Not unlike any ability you possess, disability cannot be measured with a “Yes” or “No.” There are as many degrees and variations of disabilities as there are the people that have them. Correspondingly, the tasks one care provider will assist an individual with are completely different from those of another person. The important thing for the caregiver and outsiders to remember is, there is no “small” task. Any task performed that helps a person maintain their independence and gives them the ability to achieve their goals is invaluable for that person.
To me, and to several other profoundly disabled people I know, our care providers and the ability to have them is an absolute necessity for living independently. Our caregivers become extensions of ourselves during the hours they work with us. Still, for others, a care provider’s job may be profound in other ways. The person caring for a young boy with Autism in his fourth-grade class could act as his only conduit for communication with his classmates. The 22-year-old college student that delivers Meals on Wheels before his classes could likely be the only social interaction an 80-year-old retired staff Sgt. has all week. All the truly great people that give their working lives or small segments of their free time to the hands-on care of others know the true benefits of their efforts.
Most days, my day starts pretty early, usually around 6 AM. A little later during the weekends, but not by much. My morning start early out of pure necessity. To get through my full routine is at best a four to five hour procedure. During this time, my caregiver is helping me with both personal care and household duties. Keep in mind, all of the activity I just described has to happen every day, just to make leaving the house to pursue “living” a possibility. Sharing the haul of my life, right now, I have two unbelievable care providers, neither of which would I give up or replace for any dollar amount.
Do me a favor – the next time you are in a grocery store, and you see someone wearing scrubs or a healthcare badge, stop and strike up a conversation. If you learn they are doing the grocery shopping for their client, take a moment and thank them. People that provide personal care for the betterment and security of the elderly and disabled may not be the soldiers protecting your freedom. But they are heroes for their clients that work hard every day to safeguard their client’s independence.
That’s all for now, friends.