Here's How You Get Started
Follow these simple steps.
First, recognise any personal care worker will play an integral part in your life.
Your worker will be the person to help with a range of daily activities like cooking, cleaning, personal care, medication management, transportation, or even shopping.
MORE THAN A JOB
Your worker and you will shape a relationship built on trust and respect for each other, so finding someone with a similar set of values is important.
Find someone who is passionate about their job, interested in supporting you throughout your life, willing to help you interact with your community, and will work from the same page as your entire care team.
Being a Disability Support Worker is more than just employment.
The person or people you choose to fill a support position in your life could be with you for many hours every day.
This person may be responsible for your transport to important appointments and may work closely with members of your family.
Your care team focuses on you so you can live your fullest life.
Once you employ your Support Workers, odds are they’ll become friends. They may even join your family for meals and other community activities.
So choosing the right people to fill the employment opportunities you offer safeguards you and your family.
WHO CAN GET THESE SUPPORTS?
Support Worker services are available to anyone eligible for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan — children older than 7 and adults younger than 65.
Depending on a child’s level of care, parents may qualify for help while they are working, or during the hours when their children need the most care.
Carers can join families for trips within the community or to healthcare appointments, especially if the child’s disability requires close monitoring.
The health and safety of the consumer (whether adults or children) is the most important consideration.
HOW DO YOU START THE PROCESS?
If you contract with an organisation to manage your NDIS plan, your Support Coordinator can take the lead for you.
This person knows your needs, your personality, and your lifestyle.
An NDIS Provider like the SALT Foundation can set you up with candidates with the skills and qualifications to fill the positions you have available.
The same applies if you are working with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to manage your NDIS Plan.
You should have a coordinator to put you in contact with the right people within your community who have the skills and qualifications you need.
If you’re managing your NDIS plan yourself, hiring a support person can be more involved.
Since you’re responsible for the administration of your plan, you’ll need to seek potential employees within your community.
The NDIA can connect you to workers interested in working with you.
DO YOU HAVE FUNDING?
When you had your first NDIS plan, you and your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) talked about how you could live as independently as possible.
That might include hiring a Disability Support Worker, or maybe more than one Support Worker, to help you reach your goals.
Then your plan management support team (that would be you if you’re responsible for the administration of your NDIS plan) determined how to help you achieve your plan goals and support your independent living.
Once you identified the range of services needed, and the NDIA verified your needs, your NDIS plan included funding for the supports you need workers to provide.
If you’re working with an agency managing your NDIS plan, that agency may provide you with a list of providers who can meet those needs.
But you still have a responsibility to vet anyone who comes into your residence and make sure they’re trained to do what the provider has employed them to do.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A DISABILITY SUPPORT WORKER
Anyone you hire to help with your daily living skills needs to be:
They need to show up on time.
They should be someone who values their clients and strives to make their client’s life safe and enjoyable.
To work in the NDIS, the person needs to have completed the NDIS Worker’s Screening Check. This encompasses a National Police Check to ensure the worker’s past is clean.
Either way, knowing employers have already completed police and children’s checks should give you peace of mind, knowing there aren’t red flags in your worker’s past.
Someone Who Makes You Feel Comfortable
Make sure they aren’t judgmental and can help you join in community activities.
If you’re not used to constant company, it’s important that they are personable, patient, passionate, and understanding.
Ask for references. Contact references and ask how they performed, and what they’re like to work with.
At the SALT Foundation, our verified NDIS Support Worker Specialists have all provided two references and we’ve checked them before the worker is employed.
A Quality Worker
Find out how they handle certain situations.
Pitch scenarios to them and ask them how they would provide care, including when you’re having a bad day.
It’s important to make sure they know when to call in backup and that they can handle an emergency.
At the SALT Foundation, we can organise backup workers on short notice.
Able to Interact With Others
Find out how well they work with others.
This includes your family members and other workers because conflicts can arise.
Make sure your worker is flexible and willing to learn from their mistakes.
Make sure they keep detailed records of your care plan, the tasks completed during each visit, and your daily activities.
You should always have access to these records.
Trust Your Gut
Finally, trust your gut when working with someone new.
If you feel uncomfortable around them or don’t like how they treat your loved ones, then they aren’t the right choice.
WHAT CAN DISABILITY SUPPORT WORKERS DO?
Undoubtedly, having a stranger working in your home is challenging.
But when you find a great carer, you’ll feel like you’ve found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Your NDIS Plan outlines your Support Worker’s duties. If you feel like your needs have changed, contact your Support Coordinator or LAC for a Plan Review.
Workers provide help, care and supervision in homes, residential homes, medical facilities, and hospitals.
Support Workers aim to have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of their clients and to support those clients within their community.
Some people have workers who make meals, wash clothes, clean, make phone calls, cook, and shop for groceries.
With proper training, your worker could help you with bathing, toileting, shaving, and brushing your teeth.
ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
To be clear, your worker is not an allied health professional.
As you can see in the infographic (right), allied health specialists have formal qualifications. They provide interventions to reduce pain or improve your physical or mental wellbeing.
The services your employee completes for you are all based on the support requirements spelled out in your NDIS plan.
WHY HIRE A DISABILITY SUPPORT WORKER?
People with disabilities want the same things as those without—independence, employment, a place in the community, friends.
But sometimes, to do those things, the person with disabilities needs a little support—someone to help them get dressed, take them to the library, or to visit friends.
Support Workers aim to have a positive impact on the lives of their clients. That’s why it’s important to hire the right people to fill your positions.
When you have questions about hiring a Disability Support Worker, you can contact your Support Coordinator, who will help you determine the skills workers need to meet your needs.
Does a Disability Support Worker Need Special Training?
Even though Disability Support Workers aren’t required to have formal training, some choose to study a Certificate III in Individual Support or a Certificate IV in Disability.
An experienced worker brings years of on-the-job informal training to their work.
Other optional training that some workers get to increase their value is First Aid and CPR.
For some disability-related health supports, you might need someone who can deliver specific care that meets your needs.
For example, if preventing wound development or protecting against pressure sores is the goal, you may need either a professional with specific skills.
You have a few options when assigning duties.
First is determining what level of support you need based on the tasks and their complexity.
Support levels can be low, intermediate or high, and the amount of training your worker needs to provide care increases as a task becomes more involved.
If you live in a Disability Accommodation, you may share Disability Support Workers with other residents.
SUPPORT ON YOUR TERMS
Just because you or a loved one has a disability that doesn’t mean your personal life goals aren’t important.
NDIS services help you achieve your life goals.
You guide the process and help determine the supports you need to manage all aspects of your disability and life.
Use this time to build your own superhero support team.
Provide employees with terms of their employment and acknowledge the hours you expect them to work.
Negotiate with your Support Workers so you agree on what tasks they’ll need to focus on when supporting you in the community or at your job.
By following these suggestions, you can guarantee safeguards to protect yourself from fraud and deceit.
And you’ll put yourself into a position of power instead of a position of need.
Your superhero team of carers and loved ones, doctors and other health specialists, LAC, Support Coordinator, and Disability Support Workers are there to help you thrive.
Susie Taylor spent nearly 29 years as the primary carer for her son with multiple disabilities until his death in June 2021. She has two other adult sons, one (28) who has learned to thrive with ADHD and another (24) who has overcome epilepsy and is leading a thrilling life with suspected high-functioning autism.