What are some basic and simple ways to help a person with disability? Statistics indicate that 1 in 5 people has (or will develop) a disability within their lifetime. Years ago, I used to work in Australia in the disability employment sector, which was a real eye opener. People with disability are a huge contributor to communities, yet often they suffer from discrimination, lack of access and plain misunderstanding. Learning to support someone with a disability is an important thing to do, as everyone’s needs will be different.
There are many different disabilities out there and not all of them are visible. Many are not physical, as disability can arise from a condition such as being on the autism spectrum, suffering from anxiety or even conditions like alcoholism. Different countries have different metrics of assessment, and this can lead to confusion and misunderstanding.
Individuals in wider society are also likely to misunderstand the person’s disability, as sad as that notion is. People with disability (PwD) are also likely to experience discrimination or misunderstanding at many points in their lives and there are many challenges to overcome. Before her passing I interviewed an amazing disability advocate. Read my article Why Stella Young didn’t want to be congratulated for her life.
#1: Assist your loved one with transport and by contacting health providers
PwD are likely to need access to healthcare services more regularly than others, and that might be more specialised. This may be because they have routine physical or other forms of therapy that they are required to attend to help improve their condition or reduce symptoms associated with their needs.
Alternatively, certain disabilities may leave them more prone to accident or injury, or needs for access to buildings that they might find difficult. Where I live in Sydney, there are many train stations that are still inaccessible to people with mobility issues. This is simply not good enough.
“It can be quite distressing because I guess you have to trust the people that help you that you’re going to be okay but it’s also making sure that the people that are helping you don’t hurt themselves as well so it’s a two-way street,” says Mel Harrison, a wheelchair user.
It’s important that you ensure that your loved one has access to the highest quality healthcare available to them. You should also ensure that you offer to monitor any routine appointments that they may have and ensure that they make their way to them on time, and in the most comfortable way they can.
#2: Help them find accessible activities and community groups
As Stella Young said, being deemed “different” from others can quickly become a pretty lonely experience. The person you love might even feel excluded from activities or situations that are difficult for them to access, or they may feel excluded on a social level or a physical level.
For example, a PwD might feel less welcome in certain situations (which is wrong!), or they may literally be unable to access certain places or events due to physical accessibility issues such as stairs or narrow doorways and corridors in a building. To assist your loved one, look into fun group activities for people with disabilities. These events and activities are consciously inclusive and can help your loved one to find an environment in which they feel engaged, happy, and comfortable.
#3: Help your loved one find extra care services
Although this is an unfortunate situation, there are some disabilities where the individual requires round-the-clock care or assistance with day-to-day tasks such as shopping, cooking and washing. You may not be able to meet these requirements if you have other responsibilities such as work or family commitments.
In these kind of situations, you might assist your loved one into looking at specialised extra care services. There are plenty out there, but you should take the time to ensure that your loved one’s carer is a good fit.
Ways to help a person with disability
Caring for someone with a disability is a large responsibility and can be difficult at times. But you need to remember that you need to prioritise their needs first. Check your local community centres and resources for better, more localised information, and try to maintain a positive outlook.