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Helping others live a high-quality life

Photographs: Unsplash

Text: Michaela Medveďová & Sara R. Newell

There's hardly a more rewarding job than helping others have a better life. So if you're looking for a new calling in life, why don't you consider being a handicaphjælper who helps people with disabilities?

In this month's issue, we've prepared an overview of what it takes to be a disability helper - let's dive in!

What does it mean to be a handicaphjælper?

A handicaphjælper, or a disability helper, assists a person with a disability in areas of life they need help with to ensure a high quality of life. According to UddannelsesGuiden and FOA, the tasks usually include assistance with personal hygiene and care, dressing, help around the house such as cooking or housekeeping, or assisting with lifting, wheelchair, oxygen bottles or respirators.

Depending on the client, the scope of work might also include administrative tasks. Usually, the position comes hand in hand with a requirement to have a driver's license and driving experience. That's because the helper is also responsible for accompanying the client to school, work, therapy, hobbies, or cultural events. The planning of the list of versatile tasks for their helper is the role of the client. The helper works at the client's home or residential institution.

The working hours are just as varied as the tasks. Being a disability helper can be full-time work or a monthly shift; the workload depends on the user's disability or needs. If a client has a significant disability, they might employ several helpers who are in rotation. A disability helper can assist both adult and child clients, they can become a companion who helps their client experience the world and the activities outside of their house, or they can also act as a substitute for a permanent disability helper in case of their sickness or vacation.

"As far as personal skills are concerned, a disability helper should be mature, independent, physically strong to operate the wheelchair or lift the client, and able to adapt to new, often challenging tasks."

What does it take to become a disability helper?

As far as personal skills are concerned, a disability helper should be mature, independent, physically strong to operate the wheelchair or lift the client, and able to adapt to new, often challenging tasks. They should also be outgoing, patient, and respectful of their client. Cooperation skills and empathy are also crucial because the helper and client can often spend long hours together during a shift.

But when it comes to qualifications or education, being a disability helper does not require special training or educational background. However, some helpers are either students or have a social and health care background.

To become a disability helper, you can keep an eye out for job ads from clients searching for new assistants. You can also watch out for vacancies on job portals or become a member of relevant Facebook groups - for example, privately-run pages like Handicaphjælpere søges. Finally, you can also look at your municipality's website for possibilities to register as a disability helper so you can be contacted when there is a need for one.

Can an international be a disability helper in Denmark?

Absolutely! It is an excellent employment opportunity to help internationals with their Danish language skills.

It can't be a complete starting point with your Danish, though - it's essential to be realistic in the job - basic Danish is necessary as you need to be able to take directions and ask questions. So a good minimum level to start on would be "Sprog level 2 ", which provides non-Danes with the basic vocabulary.

Sometimes, if a language barrier arises, miscommunication can happen with colleagues or the person you care for. But not to worry - Danish colleagues can be very helpful, so it's great to get out of your comfort zone and speak Danish, even if you make mistakes. Also, nothing beats putting your new language skills into practice in a Danish-only environment.

To finish off with a recommendation from a non-Danish handicaphjælper: To actively search for a job as a disability helper, it would be a good idea to put a picture of yourself up with a post saying you'd like to help someone, you're caring, empathetic, and not afraid of hard work. Of course, it would be best if you did this in Danish, but it's okay to mention that your Danish isn't perfect - but you'd like to improve it by working for a Dane.

And most notably, it's important, to be honest.

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