How to Find a Disability Support Worker in Australia

As a participant in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), you can receive funding for services and supports that you need for your disability. Through the NDIS, you have significant choice and control over how you spend your funding. Parts of your budget are flexible, which means you can spend that funding in a different category if you need to. Other parts of your budget have to be spent in a specific category. But all of your budget is under your control, which means you can choose any worker or service provider you want. 

That means you need to find and choose the right disability support worker for your needs. If you choose to self-manage your plan, you’ll need to hire, schedule, and pay all the workers and services you need, which can be time-consuming and difficult. If you choose a provider to manage your plan, you can also use a provider to manage your services, which means they’ll handle the scheduling and payments of your support workers. Either way, you always have the right to change workers if you aren’t happy with the service you receive. If you are hiring directly, you need to screen workers to make sure they have all the qualifications and experience you need. 

What qualifications do my disability support workers need? 

The NDIS standards don’t set any required qualifications for support workers. This means that if you’re self-managing NDIS support, you’re responsible for making sure your workers are qualified and have all the necessary skills.

Although no training is required, support workers are able to achieve certifications, and a certification means a worker has received training in support skills. The standard qualification is a Certificate III in Individual Support. People who achieve this certification are qualified to provide personal care and other types of support.

This certification is used for all types of home health workers, including disability support workers and home care workers. Many of the courses in this training are general standard training for all types of home healthcare. However, some of the courses provide additional specialised training specific to disability support. A person who takes enough specialised disability courses can hold a specialised certificate, the Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability). This qualification is a good indication that the worker has the most important skill for supporting a person who has a disability. 

However, a person’s certificates and training don’t give you a full picture. If you are looking for a disability support worker, it’s important to consider their experience as well as their training. Ask for a CV and references, and contact their former employers to 

If you work with a provider to manage your plan, they can help you find workers. The CareSide is both a plan manager and a support provider, which means we can manage your plan and hire your support workers. We always match you with workers whose experience and certifications are a good match for your specific needs, so you can be confident your worker has the best skills for your support. 

What should I expect from my support workers? 

Even though support workers aren’t required to hold any certifications, they are required to follow certain guidelines. The most important guideline for all disability support workers is the NDIS code of conduct, which defines your rights as an NDIS participant receiving disability support and services. 

The NDIS code of conduct requires support workers to do the following: 

  • Act with respect for individual rights to freedom of expression, self-determination, and decision-making in accordance with relevant laws and conventions; 
  • Respect the privacy of people with disability; 
  • Provide supports and services in a safe and competent manner with care and skill; 
  • Act with integrity, honesty, and transparency; 
  • Promptly take steps to raise and act on concerns about matters that might have an impact on the quality and safety of supports provided to people with disability; 
  • Take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to all forms of violence, exploitation, neglect, and abuse; and
  • Take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual misconduct. 

This code applies to both support workers and providers. 

It’s a good idea to ask support workers to get a background screening check. If your NDIS plan is managed by a registered provider, then this screening check is required for all support workers. The NDIS Worker Screening Check is recognized nationally throughout Australia. It checks with police and other agencies for a person’s criminal history. Depending on the level of the screening check, an individual can be cleared to work in specific types of roles. For example, a screening check for a personal hygiene worker would be more in-depth than the check for a housecleaner. 

Although you’re not required to run the national screening check if you’re self-managing your workers, it’s a good idea for all  NDIS participants to run this check. In addition, your state or territory may require credentials such as a certificate or a clearance. If you are self-managing, it’s your responsibility to make sure any worker you hire meets all local screening requirements. If you choose a registered provider to manage your plan, then your provider will make sure that your support workers are qualified by all national and local standards. 

How can I search for a disability support worker? 

If you are looking for a disability support worker, friends and family are an easy place to start. If you know anyone who is also a participant, or who has used support workers in the past, ask them for recommendations. 

However, you may not know other people who use support workers. In that case, the best place to look is in your MyPlace portal. You’ll get access to this portal when you are approved as an NDIS participant, and you’ll use it to track your budget and spending. Inside your portal, you can search for registered NDIS providers and filter by the types of services and support you’re looking for. 

What should I ask potential support workers? 

Once you have a list of several potential workers, it’s time to get in touch. When you’re choosing new support services, it’s a good idea to interview at least a few different providers or support workers to make sure you find the best fit for you. 

First, ask questions that help you confirm their experience and qualifications: 

  • Are you a registered NDIS provider? 
  • What certifications do you hold? 
  • Where have you worked before, and what position did you have there? 
  • What are the phone numbers of references I can contact? 

In addition, be sure to ask questions that will help you get to know them and figure out if you’ll be comfortable receiving support from them. Many employers use “behavioral interviewing” questions to learn this type of knowledge. These are questions that ask what a person would do in a specific type of situation. For example: 

  • Tell me about a stressful situation you experienced with a client and how you handled it. 
  • Tell me about a time when your support made a difference to a client’s independence and ability to enjoy their community. 

Finally, ask questions that are important to you. You might want to ask how they would handle a specific situation that you’ve had with a previous worker, or about their experience working with people who have the same type of disability you have. 

Finding a disability support worker on your own is a lot of work, but it doesn’t need to be. If you need help finding the best worker for you, working with a registered provider who manages your plan will mean you don’t have to worry about hiring workers. Registered providers only work with screened workers, and they frequently offer ongoing training so their staff can obtain more certifications. Working with a registered provider will enable you to spend less time getting the support you need, and more time using your support as it’s intended – to improve your quality of life. 

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