Family weighs whether to seek outside care for special needs son - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Family weighs whether to seek outside care for special needs son

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

So many professions require thorough training, from hair stylists to doctors and nurses. But should someone with no qualifications take care of your elderly parents or a loved one with special needs?

It can happen more often than you might realize and one group is working to change that.

Like most parents, Tammy Carter calls her son a blessing. But unlike other children, Drake was diagnosed with a brain disorder that has affected his development.

"He wasn't expected to live, and he's 21 year old, and functions about a 4 year old level," Tammy Carter said.

Carter takes care of Drake full-time. And even though he's an adult, due to his special needs, he needs constant supervision and help to make sure he gets his medication on time.

"It's a constant get up, get dressed, get breakfast, shave him, wash him, brush his teeth. It's not a choice" she said. "It's something that has to be done."

Carter said she's left him in the care of a health care worker before, but that had its problems.

"Just a kid walked up to him and smacked him in the back of the head, and he just turns around and doesn't know why somebody would hit him," Carter said.

That incident happened at school, when a health aid had stepped out of her son's sight. This is why she thinks the state needs to set guidelines and standards set for direct care workers.

Anthony Wells with the Iowa Direct Care Advisory Council says currently, there's no way to know if the person caring for you or your love is qualified.

"We don't know who they are, we don't know what kind of training they have, and there's no way for the public to know for sure, what they're saying by the word of their mouth," Anthony Wells, a health care provider on the council said.

"We're kinda like attached at the hip," said Carter.

Tammy is now considering, the option of having a care worker to give her a hand, and her son some independence. That means she'd join the many people who depend on the direct care workforce. It's one reason why it's not only a growing field, but one of the biggest in the state.

Sioux City Representative Chris Hall said that means it's time to set statewide standards now.

"In years to come, the elderly and aging population will continue to grow in Iowa, and it's in the state's best interest to be proactive and to make sure we have a skilled workforce and well trained group of people who want to go into this field," said Hall, a Sioux City democrat.

Until that happens, Carter says, she's going to stay at home, and be Drake's sole caretaker.

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