How to become a support worker: From the Perspective of a Person with a Disability

With the launch of the NDIS in 2013 there has been an ever increasing number of people trying to become support workers and this industry is booming.

I get it, it seems like an easy job with good pay right?!

In fact, as someone with an on and off disability with NDIS funding I can attest that there are no Support Worker Qualifications needed. All you need is an ABN and you could start working as a support worker today. Earning $50 + dollars per hour, if you do it independently.

In fact, I have hired many support workers independently through FB groups or my local community who had no qualifications.

But this doesn’t mean that just anyone should be a support worker and there are certain qualities, qualifications and experience one needs to be a good support worker. Which is often forgotten about and which I even neglected when I first started hiring support workers. 

In fact, having been on NDIS funding for 5+ years it is only this year that I have finally found a good support worker. Who knows and is able to meet if not all, most of my needs. 

Why is it important to be a good support worker?

When someone has a disability with limited mobility they are usually very dependent on their support workers for their livelihood.

For example, when my feet are bad I’m usually home bound as it is painful to leave my house and the only face I see is either my mum and my housemate, or my support worker. As humans, we find a lot of joy, connection, meaning, community and have a lot of emotional and social needs met by other people. But, when you are stuck at home and can’t get out you are dependent on your support worker to meet all of these needs. Your support worker is your only life line.

We are dependent on our support workers to get out, enjoy life and make the most of what we’ve got.

When we have higher physical needs we are also dependent on our support worker to meet things such getting out of bed, cleaning our teeth, having a shower, cooking our food, moving us around anywhere we might want to go … and let me just say we don’t want just any stranger showering us! 

Support Worker Qualifications

So, what are the qualities that makes a good support worker?

Firstly and most importantly, someone who actually cares.

My current support worker is not in it for the money (although of course that helps, and I like to think she is paid well) but she is in it because she wants to help. She wants to be flexible to suit my unpredictable flare ups. She wants my room being left feeling nice and homely. She wants me to feel comfortable. 

I would say it is her empathy, her care, her flexibility, her proactiveness and her eagerness that makes her stand out from the crowd. 

She is passionate about and constantly learning new wellbeing tools and modalities that can help people.

If her client has a need she wants to go and learn how to best support that need. For example, she is doing a weekend course on the Foundations of the Fascial Counterstrain very soon, because this is the massage technique that really helped her friend. 

What are the qualifications that makes a good support worker?

This depends on the severity and condition of the disability of the person you are supporting.

As a baseline the below qualifications and checks would be good;

Generally, specific courses related to the person or population you will be supporting (e.g., mental health, developmental disabilities, elderly care).

My support worker has the following qualifications;

  • Trauma informed Care for Bodyworkers
  • Drug and Alcohol Addiction Support Training
  • Craniosacral/Cranio Fascial Therapy
  • Manual Lymphatic Therapy and complete decongestive therapy

These qualifications are especially useful for me and my needs, but every person with a disability will be looking for something different dependent on their needs. 

For more complex support, you may consider completing a vocational qualification in disability or community services. Including;

  • Certificate III in Individual Support (CHC33015) specialising in disability
  • Certificate IV in Disability (CHC43115)
  • Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance
  • Certificate IV in Ageing Support
  • Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance
  • Diploma of Community Services (CHC52015) at a TAFE or Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

Generally it is encouraged that you continue to learn on the job and seek to learn ways to help with your clients needs. 

If you need a wheelchair accessible vehicle to hire give us a call on 1800 133 320

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