Depending upon their level of disability, severely handicapped adults require various degrees of help with many needs. By the time people reach adolescence, they are expected to handle many common tasks on their own, such as grooming, eating and being mobile. Commonly referred to as activities of daily living, these are the types of accomplishments necessary to get through the day. Caregivers are usually not qualified to administer any medical care, but rather help handicapped adults have a more comfortable and safe life.
Necessary Skill Sets
Caregivers for severely handicapped adults have direct contact with clients and help them take care of personal issues, so compassion is a top priority. They should also be approachable and able to put their clients at ease. Caregivers may also go into private homes, so proven integrity is a must. Physical strength may be required, as well, to help those in their care get around throughout the day.
Physically Helping Clients
Caregivers help severely disabled individuals prepare for the day. After helping clients get out of bed, they help them bathe -- assisting anywhere from giving a sponge bath to monitoring their safety in the shower. After bathing, caregivers lend a hand with shaving, brushing teeth and applying makeup, if desired. They also help clients physically move around throughout their days by pushing wheelchairs when needed or providing assistance going up and down stairs, for example.
Medication and Shopping
Severely handicapped adults typically need help with activities expected of the average mature individual. Clients may need help sorting through and taking medications, as well as refilling prescriptions when they run out. They may also need help administering medications, although caregivers are not qualified to give shots or change wound dressings. Caregivers also ensure that their clients have necessary supplies to get by and shop for them when needed, including items like food and toiletries. They may also help administer therapist-prescribed exercise programs.
Caregivers may not be required to have additional education above a high school diploma -- and, in some cases, they may not be required to have graduated from high school at all. Training on the job is common for caregiver positions and may be required specifically to understand the needs of the severely disabled. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, in 2012, the average pay for a personal care aide was $9.57 per hour -- or $19,910 per full-time year. It also reported in the same year that more than 1 million personal aides were employed in the U.S.
2016 Salary Information for Personal Care Aides
Personal care aides earned a median annual salary of $21,920 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, personal care aides earned a 25th percentile salary of $19,180, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $24,860, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,016,100 people were employed in the U.S. as personal care aides.
- Oregon.gov: Caregiving
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Personal Care Aides
- Home Attendant Care: Caregiver Position Description
- Home Helpers: Caregiver Job Description/Application Process
- State of California Department of Developmental Services: Care of Children & Adults with Severe Developmental Disabilities
- AZ Direct Care: Principles of Caregiving: Aging and Physical Disbilities
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Personal Care Aides
- Career Trend: Personal Care Aides
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