After a life altering injury accepting the fact that caregivers are going to be a part of your newfound freedom can be a milestone in the recovery process. This identification can greatly help with your thinking process labouring in the direction of a new, sustainable life. Shifting your perspective and realizing that you can still do all the things you want with the help of someone takes a long time to accept but it is of enormous benefit to your internal struggle. Help from outsiders such as caregivers enables a quad like myself to live independently. Caregivers are your new hands and feet, giving you the ability to get tasks completed as before while effectively working together towards a unified goal; maximizing independence and optimizing an individual’s life.
The HSE must sanction a community service which “allows” a person to stay safely(with a decent quality of life) in independent accommodation. A care needs analysis must be completed by a Quality Officer and an occupational therapist detailing the hours per week required to assist an individual to complete essential activities of daily living ranging from getting out of bed to socializing. If someone needs aids and appliances to carry out the most basic tasks that most people take for granted, then they clearly need ongoing support to live independently. With these right supports, promptly provided, you can be a normal, contributing member of society.
Once you’ve accepted that caregivers are going to be a part of your new life, the big question becomes just how big a part are they going to play? The lower the level of injury, the trickier it can be to decide where your independence is best served by pushing yourself to try to physically accomplish something versus asking an attendant to do it and conserving your energy and time for something else. 36.5hours per week is the average amount of service hours provided for an individual’s needs to be met to enable a good standard of life. This is on average five hours a day but when you take into account a quads morning routine can take anywhere from two to three hours, striking the balance of finding the fine line between doing tasks oneself and asking for help can be tricky. Each person’s needs differ greatly from help required to get out of bed in the morning, washed, dressed, socialization hours, grocery shopping, sporting activities, food preparation, attending appointments to assistance back to bed at night.
Working with a mutual respect is essential for caregivers to assist with overcoming personal challenges, improving situations and working to fully achieve an independent lifestyle for the individual. Like many quads with lower cervical injuries, I am still not quit at an attendant-free stage but I have reduced my daily care from 24hours while in the hospital to a maximum of five hours most days. A task that seems impossible today may eventually become doable with repetition and I hope that with continued efforts, the time required for assistance will become much lower and freedom from help a future reality.