Careers helping people with disabilities
The United States Department of Health and Human Services reports that there are approximately 54 million people living with disabilities in the U.S. Many of these individuals with disabilities need organization of personalized support to lead fulfilling lives. In addition, with the proper support system, people with disabilities contribute to the diversity and vitality of their communities.
The development of a useful support system for these individuals has been a magnificent project in terms of humanity and opportunity. In addition to creating a better world for people with disabilities, the Disability Services industry has created hundreds of thousands of jobs and a work environment full of individuals with similar interests and good will. Let’s look at seven popular careers helping people with disabilities that make a big impact.
- Social Worker
A social worker helps an individual or group of people tackle a problem or life challenge. This can include anything from dealing with a physical illness to emotional issues stemming from problems at home. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that social workers find plenty of opportunities to help those who face mental or physical disabilities. This assistance is varied and can include tasks such as advocating on behalf of the interests of disabled individuals or assessing the needs of those with disabilities, including their family members or other caretakers. Social workers can also provide significant emotional support.
- Mental Health Social Worker
The field of social work is extremely diverse, with professionals focusing on specific areas, including education, family relationships, healthcare, children, and victims of abuse. Mental health social workers can help someone with a medical or psychological disability in at least two possible ways. First, they can work directly with individuals who have emotional or psychological disabilities. If they are clinical social workers, this can include the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral and emotional problems. Second, mental health social workers can help those who might be close to someone with a disability but are having trouble coping, such as a primary caregiver.
- Healthcare Coordinator
A healthcare coordinator (sometimes referred to as a medial or health services manager) arranges the efficient and effective delivery of healthcare services. Healthcare coordinators take a more administrative role in assisting someone with a mental or medical disability. While this care may be indirect, it will still make a huge difference in a disabled patient’s well-being and level of care. For example, a healthcare coordinator might hire and manage healthcare providers that work directly with a disabled patient. Or the healthcare coordinator finds ways to boost the efficiency of medical services providers, allowing for lower healthcare costs and a greater amount of available treatment regimens to choose from.
Therapists do what the name suggests – they provide various types of therapies that impart positive benefits for patient or clients. One specific type that might spend a lot of time working with someone with a disability is a recreational therapist. These highly skilled professionals treat patients who have a variety of physical disabilities. A recreational therapist can spend time helping someone with a disability learn to take care of themselves by utilizing recreation-based therapies, such as crafts, music, and games. This type of treatment is particularly helpful when treating children with disabilities.
- Nurse Consultant – RN
Another on the list of careers helping people with disabilities is a nurse consultant. A registered nurse consultant is a unique position in that they serve a more facilitative role when it comes to the care a person with a disability might receive. While direct care is possible, a registered nurse consultant focuses more on coordinating care between the direct healthcare service providers and those in administration and management. For example, a registered nurse consultant will visit patients who might have a developmental disability and assess the patient’s progress, then coordinate with other medical professional and members of administration to decide if the current treatment plan should be continued or modified.
- Employment Specialist
An employment specialist works with prospective and current employees to help them obtain the education, knowledge, and skills necessary to find a new career or make the most of a current career. An employment specialist can help someone with a disability by providing an evaluation of that individual’s level of employability, then deciding what education or training programs they should obtain to make the most of their professional goals. Employment specialists may also deliver the occupational and training programs for a current or future employee who has a disability.
- Home Health Aide
Home health aides work with sick or disabled individuals who need help with their day-to-day living activities within their own home. When it comes to providing this hands-on help, home health aides are at the frontline. They can find themselves engaging in home activities that someone without a disability may take for granted, such as making meals, bathing, doing dishes, taking medications, and shopping. Home health aides can also teach someone with a disability how to accomplish these tasks so they may obtain a more independent form of living.
People who enjoy working with disabled populations generally excel in working one on one with others and providing support to at-need populations. When deciding on whether to enter a career in disability services, it’s easy focus on providing direct assistance. While helping those with disabilities certainly can involve directly helping them to lead fulfilling and independent lives, there are many careers that provide indirect assistance, such as helping someone find gainful employment, learn new skills, or obtain an education. If you have the desire to improve people’s lives through individualized care and support, a career in Disability Services may be for you.