Mental disabilities cover a large range of potential problems. Some mentally disabled adults can take care of many of their needs with minimal support, while others require round-the-clock supervision and a significant amount of assistance to complete daily routines. Job descriptions for caretakers vary by the level of support each client needs, and caretakers must be sensitive to their clients’ abilities so they can provide the appropriate level of help for each person. Pay varies, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal care aides in 2016 earned a median rate of $10.54 per hour. This equals annual wages of $21,920.
Help with Hygiene
It’s not uncommon for mentally disabled adults to need help taking care of their personal hygiene. In some cases assistance with the most basic of needs is necessary, such as help with toileting or changing adult diapers, but for those mentally disabled clients who function at a higher level this usually isn’t part of the job. The caregiver may need to remind the client about what needs doing, such as brushing teeth or showering, and may be required to supervise to prevent injury, but won’t need to physically assist him.
Supporting Relationship Skills
Sometimes mentally disabled adults have trouble relating to other people or simply don’t know how. People who take care of such adults may need to assist them with basic relationship skills to help them to function around others. These include using basic courtesies, engaging in minimal levels of polite conversation and other commonly accepted ways of relating to other people. Caretakers may need to help mentally disabled clients learn to use appropriate language and use words instead of actions when interacting socially.
Teaching Job Skills
A caretaker may be asked to help mentally disabled clients learn job skills and remain on the job with the client to ensure that he stays on task and completes his work appropriately. Jobs will vary by the client’s abilities and might include work in the community, such as stocking shelves, janitorial duties or lawn care. Some clients are better served by sheltered work opportunities and may receive training and assistance within a closed environment where a single caretaker may teach job skills to more than one client at a time.
An important part of the job for a caregiver for mentally disabled adults is providing transportation. Clients who need the help of a caregiver are typically unable to transport themselves and need a caretaker to make sure they get to medical, dental and therapeutic appointments. If the adult is working in a special program bus transportation may be available, but the caretaker must be on hand to make sure the client gets on the bus safely and is met at the end of the day and reaches home safely as well.