An NDIS disability support worker plays a crucial role in helping people with disabilities live more independent lives. Whether personal care tasks such as bathing or cooking or providing transportation to social activities and medical appointments, a worker’s roles and responsibilities can vary based on the type of support work they provide. The ultimate goal is to enhance a participant’s quality of life so they can enjoy a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Here are some things to consider before becoming a disability support worker.
1. What type of support worker do you want to become?
When starting in disability support, you should consider the career path you want to take. Some options include:
Support coordination involves understanding service systems, advocating with clients, connecting them to appropriate resources, and helping them manage their care plans. You will serve as the bridge between participants, service providers, and the broader NDIS system to ensure better care and assistance.
A transport assistant helps get participants to appointments or provides transport to work or education. Some examples include driving a participant to a doctor’s appointment or giving them a lift to the shops. It can also include transporting them to an educational course or their place of work.
An occupational therapist attends therapy sessions with participants and then works to help them achieve their goals. An example includes attending a physiotherapy session with a participant and helping them continue exercises and mobility efforts afterwards.
Personal care assistant
Personal care assistants help with regular daily support at home or in the community. Some examples include help with showering, bathing, dressing, toileting, getting in and out of bed, and assistance with hearing and communication devices.
A case manager oversees and coordinates a participant’s comprehensive care plan. This role involves decision-making and helping individuals achieve their goals, whether mobility improvement or living more independently.
2. Qualifications needed
No qualifications are required for entry-level disability support work. However, here are some qualifications you may want to consider depending on the career path you decide to pursue.
Many disability support worker positions may not require formal qualifications, but you may wish to complete a Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) or a Certificate IV to ensure you have a suitable understanding of your professional obligations and the services you’ll be providing.
Whilst not mandatory, additional training in specialised areas allows you to gain more skills and knowledge to support participants with disabilities. For example, doing a course in behavioural management can ensure you have the training to handle behaviour challenges. This can enhance your competency and allow you to deliver more effective care in a supportive environment.
Clinical knowledge is not always required for disability support workers. However, it can be beneficial depending on the nature of your work and the participants being supported. For example, occupational therapists may need to work with other allied healthcare workers to help participants meet their goals.
First Aid training is required for support workers caring for participants with certain conditions or during specific activities. This ensures that support workers have the necessary skills to respond appropriately in emergencies.
3. Screening Checks Required
NDIS organisations looking to employ disability support workers usually require screening checks to protect the safety of participants.
- The Working with Children’s Check (WWCC) is common and verifies your suitability for working with minors.
- Police checks are typically mandatory, examining your criminal history to ensure a safe environment for those under your care.
- You will also need an NDIS Worker Check (NDISWC) for certain support worker roles.
4. Personal qualities and skills
When considering a career as a disability support worker, there are some personal qualities and skills that are important.
- Communication skills are fundamental, enabling you to connect meaningfully with participants.
- Compassion motivates carers to take meaningful action, ensuring that participants receive assistance with genuine care and understanding.
- Cultural sensitivity, particularly for workers who may support participants from diverse backgrounds.
- Empathy makes it possible to fully understand the needs of each person – encouraging an inclusive and supportive environment.
- Organisational skills help you manage multiple tasks and schedules for different participants effectively.
- Patience is critical as it takes time for some participants to develop skills, so being patient can help them achieve their goals.
- Privacy and confidentiality are essential, as participants must trust their support workers. You will likely handle sensitive information about the participant’s health and personal life, so maintaining privacy is crucial.
- Problem-solving skills are important as situations may arise where you need to think quickly and find solutions to unexpected
- Record keeping is extremely important for disability support workers, to ensure participants receive the required care, maintain NDIS compliance, and provide transparency around the services you’re providing. Many organisations use NDIS client management software to record the services provided to clients, so it’s valuable to have an understanding of these types of applications.
5. Understand your physical capabilities
Assessing your physical capabilities is important when considering a career in disability support work. You must be physically fit, as your work may involve assisting participants with varying degrees of mobility. For example, you may need to lift a patient to transfer them from a wheelchair into a car and vice versa. Some other examples of physical work include bed making and securing participants in wheelchair-fitted vehicles. To deliver consistent and effective support without hurting yourself, you must assess your physical fitness before taking on a support worker role.
6. Your obligations and responsibilities
Adhering to the NDIS Code of Conduct is paramount, as it sets out the expectations for ethical and professional behaviour when working with participants. This includes respecting the rights and dignity of those you support, maintaining confidentiality, and ensuring cultural competence. Additionally, familiarising yourself with relevant laws and regulations ensures NDIS compliance, accountability, and delivery of high-quality care.
7. Check what employers may be looking for
Employers, especially registered NDIS providers, may also have other required screening checks, so it’s best to check with them if you are considering a particular role. This may involve verifying your qualifications, experience, and role. For example, you may be asked to prove you have completed the Worker Orientation Module to ensure you understand your responsibilities in the NDIS context.
Registered NDIS providers must adhere to certain NDIS obligations, including ensuring staff are well trained and storing client records to ensure a high quality of care and adherence to NDIS audit and other process requirements, which is why you may be asked to complete some additional training requirements.
When seeking employment with a registered NDIS provider, it is important to check what screening checks and training requirements they may have. This will help you prepare for the role and ensure that you can provide high-quality care to participants in the NDIS.
By understanding and meeting these expectations, you can make a positive impact on the lives of those living with disabilities and their families. So, if you are passionate about making a difference in people’s lives and are willing to continuously learn and grow, then a career in the NDIS may be right for you.