Caregiving for Children and Adults with Exceptionalities
Caregiving for children and adults with exceptionalities is a unique journey for every family. From coordinating healthcare appointments to finding programming and transportation, managing care can become a full-time job. Support from schools, specialists and community resources can help alleviate some pressure.
What is an exceptionality?
Any special need that requires accommodations of some kind. Of course, unique needs require varying levels of care and resources.
Here are some common challenges for which individuals require support:
- Cognition: Serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Hearing: Serious difficulty hearing
- Vision: Serious difficulty seeing
- Independent living: Difficulty completing errands and household tasks alone
- Mobility: Serious difficulty walking, moving about the house, or climbing stairs
- Self-care: Difficulty dressing, bathing or feeding themselves
How can you make your care journey a little easier?
Organization and collaboration is key. Care plans are one effective way for families to organize support, schedules and responsibilities across a care team, including family members, medical providers, educators, behavioral specialists, and more.
Making a Care Plan for Children
A great way to get a care plan in place for your child is at your school, where staff are trained to build wraparound supports for students. States and school districts have specific requirements for getting accommodations, which usually starts with an Individualized Learning Plan (IEP). Parents/guardians can request an assessment, or a school staff member may contact you to set up a meeting. This process is collaborative, as both parents and school staff have expertise in how to assist a child. Accommodations include things like additional time for testing, specialist help with language acquisition and supplemental behavioral and academic support. The caregiver meets with the team of school support staff regularly to monitor and adjust the plan. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that if your child has a disability as defined by the ADA, their school is required to provide reasonable accommodations at no cost to your family.
Making a Care Plan for Adults
First, it’s important to assess their needs.
Ask yourself and your loved one:
- What is lacking or being overlooked in your loved one’s current routine or care?
- What objectives would you like to achieve?
- What type of resources need to be in place to meet these objectives?
Sometimes, care plans can be created among family and community members by allocating tasks and responsibilities. Other adults may require additional support, provided by a combination of friends and family, community programming, and government services. Use this assessment tool to get a full understanding of what support is needed.
Start by researching:
- Asking your school, church or local YMCA about local programming such as adult daycare and senior activity centers
- Review your state’s Department of Human Services website to get connected to subsidized resources
- If your loved one is receiving social services or getting care at a hospital, ask to be connected to a social worker who specializes in adult/elder care
Here’s a template for building a comprehensive care plan.
Paying for Healthcare
Work with your loved one and their medical team (primary care physician, specialists, social worker) to determine needs around mental and physical healthcare.
Children and adults with exceptionalities and aging adults often qualify for payment assistance for healthcare:
- Medicaid and Medicare are government-funded health insurance programs that provide medical insurance and assistance covering medical expenses
- To enroll your child in Medicaid benefits, you must meet state income requirements
- To access Medicare, adults must be 65 or older
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is available to children under the age of 19 who can’t afford private insurance, but whose family income is too high to qualify for Medicaid
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI), disbursed to those over 65 and available to children with disabilities, can be used for expenses that aren’t covered by insurance
- Hospital and Community Payment Assistance “Charity Care” Programs provide funds to patients of limited means. Check with your hospital to learn more about program availability and eligibility requirements
- Find additional government benefits that cover medication, healthcare bills, income assistance, housing - even transportation.
Getting Help: Caregiver Benefits at Work
Although there are many resources to assist children and adults with exceptional needs, they may not cover every expense associated with their care. Your employer offers care benefits to help manage care responsibilities so you can come to work without worrying.
How to Find a Quality Caregiver
Consider the following resources:
- Connect with the Help Core Care team to get help finding a match - we locate, interview, and screen care providers for you.
Can a Family Member Be Paid as a Caregiver?
Generally, yes, you can use your benefits to pay family and friends to provide care for a child/adult. Ask your benefit provider or Core Care consultant for more information.