Who are Disability Care People?
Any person who carefully supports a person with a disability is part of the disability care community.
We welcome you into Disability Care People as a person who cares about people with disability. Sadly, we know that some parents and support workers commit neglect or abuse. In April 2019 the Disability Royal Commission was established in response to widespread reports of violence, neglect and abuse and exploitation of people with disability. Disability Care People shares the aims of the Commission to promote a more inclusive society that supports people with disability to be independent and live in safety.
You belong to a community of trust. Your interactions are never abusive.
You enable a vulnerable person to live with the greatest possible independence and vitality.
Whether you are a parent or another family member, or a paid support worker, your caring interaction with the person with a disability makes their day.
You know your person’s likes and dislikes, their personal care needs and their safety needs. If you aren’t personally acquainted, you will find out what gives them comfort and safety by studying the person’s individual support plan or speaking with them or somebody who knows them well and cares about them.
You always listen carefully to the person you care for. You listen to what they say and how they say it - with their words, their eyes, their tone of voice and their gestures. You connect through photos, pictures in magazines or newsletters, and things of interest to them including books and Internet webpages and online activities.
You are patient. You speak slowly and clearly. In the person’s home, you talk about the function you are enabling. You give the person time to get themselves in the best mindset to have their shower or go to the toilet and wash their hands, or have their meal and brush their teeth, or shave/ groom/put on make-up to look good and feel great.
If an activity is scheduled, you speak about it well before it’s time to leave. You will make use of pictures, brochures or links on the person’s phone (or on your phone). You point out things that the person likes and will look forward to doing or seeing.
When you are out, you will help the person retain tickets and receipts, collect brochures or take pictures to mark the event. The person can refer to the photos and the items to show others to tell the story of the outing.
If you are a disability care worker or volunteer
What makes a great disability supporter?
You respect each person with a disability in your care, even if they have features or behaviour that you find unattractive.
You show poise, communication, clarity of focus and pay attention to the person and their environment.
It's about staying calm and using your eyes and your ears to know what a person is communicating to you in their body language and the sounds they make.
Good supporting comes from a personal style that is non-threatening yet confident.
You need to be clear from the start about your role and what you have been contracted to do.
The work involves encouraging people to get through transitions.
Great disability supporters grow as they face challenges and unexpected events.
Great support involves performance - a bit of theatre - as well as emotional honesty.
There are many different types of disability, some mostly affecting a person’s physical capacities and others, which are cognitive, affecting the way a person thinks or feels. Disability care people’s focus is on supporting people with social and learning disabilities.
If you are a disability care parent
Your life with the person you care for may be marked by stages of expectation, disappointment, demands, and adaptation.
Perhaps your dreams for your child were broken by the disability. You expected so much. You were disappointed in your child, in yourself and in the people around you who seemed to judge you and didn’t understand how to help and not hurt. So many demands were placed on you. You might have become demanding, yourself, and angry with service obstacles and bureaucracy and the limitations of education and therapy. You may have made demands on your child for them to overcome their disability. You had some terrible times. Slowly you adapt. When you stop judging your child and yourself and everyone around you, you begin to respond in a way that helps more than it hurts. That’s when the caring blossoms.
When you open up to the community of care that surrounds you, you can find freedom for yourself as well as your young or grown-up child.
You might have to fight for programs that will make life accessible for your child. You are welcome to join Disability Care People’s online forum to share ideas on what you would like to see change.
Disability Care Parent and Advocate - Thea Calzoni
I have devoted most of my life to helping my now adult son, Julian, to expand his possibilities for a happy and connected life. Along the way I have connected with families, disability workers and therapists in mutual support and that has led me to develop this site celebrating disability care people. As a community, we can reach out to each other to ask for help and share stories of challenges and achievements.