C is for Costa Rica!

Word of the week: “Capaz” or “Capable”

Per my previous post regarding Costa Rica’s disabled population, this post will focus on the care for them. Handled similarly to the United States, Costa Ricans who are mentally disabled with very little to no assistance are taken in by the state. Admittedly, the difference in the levels of care will differ greatly in the states, due to the way our health system is ran. For example, an American in need of assistance and the level of care provided will differ greatly depending on their insurance and level of income. This could range from state level care – which if I must add is not all as it’s cracked up to sound or private care. On the contrary, Costa Ricans who need assistance, who may live with their families will be cared for with little to no variations in their care, seeing as though their healthcare system is on one accord with their government. In fact, it is a constitutional right. So in the event that assistance is needed, care is provided, whether you are privately insured or not.

Despite the common misconception, being handicapped doesn’t always equate to being physically incapacitated. Sometimes individuals need daily assistance with the small luxuries we take for granted in life (i.e. being able to remember to take our medicines and eat meals on time) In fact, Costa Rica is still working on its ability to fully accommodate it’s physically disabled population. As for the mentally disabled with varying conditions, assistance is available and I’m proud to have learned of a company who does offer assistance.

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During my time here, I’ve had the privilege of working with a company called CONAPDIS, or Conejo Nacional de Personas con Discapacidad. They are a company that works not only with the mentally disabled population of Costa Rica, but the physical as well. They are understanding of the needs of these often forgotten individuals. In partnership with the government, they directly handle all funds, social relations and living arrangements for those under their care. Fun fact, the Costa Rican government even pitches in to assist families who decide to care for their loved ones who may not operate fully. Essentially, they are paid as full-time caregivers to help alleviate the stress of the government to fully take over. In some cases, this isn’t feasible given the needs of the individual, socioeconomic status of the family and overall geographical locations. Thus, in various provinces (or states), there are group home settings that consist of an arrayed number of individuals that live and are assisted daily.

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I report to CONAPDIS weekly and assist an older group of individuals, who I now consider dear to my heart. The majority of the 13 persons that I work with have varied functionality, both physical and mental, but they all share one common trait. They are so filled with life and warm spirits that are sure to light any room. They are cared for around the clock by caregivers, or los cuidadores that take great pride in the work they do. The tasks completed by these workers are similar to caregivers or home health aides in the United States working in facilities such as nursing homes. They handle all home cleanings, feedings, and assistance of activities of daily living. This population is well sought after by the government, especially given their highly rated healthcare system that encompasses a portion of the care these individuals receive.

Myself and a resident who took kindly to a Valentine’s day activity 🙂
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