Finding the right support worker or workers can have a big impact on your ability to live a full life and achieve your goals.
Support workers become part of your crew. While they are paid to help with your disability-related support needs, chances are you’ll spend a lot of time together so it’s important to have support workers that you get along with and trust.
Support workers can be individual contractors or they might work for an organisation that offers a range of disability-related services.
If your NDIS Plan includes Core supports funding, you can use it to hire support workers for any reasonable and necessary supports related to your disability.
What support workers can do:
- Assist with personal care such as showering, dressing and eating
- Help you move around at home or in the community
- Support participation in work or community activities
- Assist with tasks around the house including cooking, cleaning and laundry
- Drive you around or assist you to use public transport
- Help you to learn new skills.
How to choose the right support worker.
1. Have a wish list
Write down your support needs such as those above. Write a second list of what you’re looking for in a support worker such as a friendly personality, a drivers licence or certain skills. These lists can come in handy when talking to support workers or companies that supply them.
2. Consult your network
Ask friends, trusted providers or other people in your network for recommendations. The Leap in! Provider Network Directory has an extensive list of providers that employ support workers. Note that you can’t use NDIS funding to hire a family member as a support worker.
3. Chat before hiring someone
Take the time to interview potential support workers by phone, email or in person. Ask them about their experience with people with a disability and their qualifications. Find out about their hobbies or interests to see if you will get along.
4. Check if they have flexible schedules
Some providers require NDIS participants to commit to a minimum number of hours per week. Be sure to choose a provider that is flexible enough for your needs.
5. Build your team
Several support workers with different skills may be more suitable than relying on one person to do everything. By building a team, you’ll have a back-up person to call if someone is sick or unavailable.
6. Review qualifications and references
Ask for proof of qualifications, first aid training and police clearances. You might also like to obtain references so you can speak directly with people they have worked for in the past.
7. Develop a Service Agreement
We recommend developing a Service Agreement with each support worker. A Service Agreement sets out the expectations on both sides in writing including the types of services you will receive, costs and cancellation policies.
8. Check the NDIS for compliance actions
The NDIS records information about any actions taken against providers if they have failed to meet the NDIS Code of Conduct. Check this list before engaging a new service provider.
Getting the most flexibility from your NDIS Plan.
It’s common for people to find a support worker and really connect with them. So, it’s important to structure your NDIS Plan in a way that allows you to engage the right individual or team.
Choosing how your NDIS Plan is managed can have a big impact on the support workers you’re able to use.
Agency managed NDIS participants are limited to using only NDIS registered support workers. This may include individuals or support workers employed by an agency or organisation like Five Good Friends or HireUp.
If you have plan management (or a combination plan of Agency managed and plan management together) you can use your plan managed budget to fund registered and unregistered support workers.
This flexibility is particularly important if you live in an area with high demand or a shortage of support workers.
Sometimes people choose to self manage their NDIS Plan because they want to pay their support worker at a higher rate than the maximum NDIS rate. It is important that this option is available for the people who want it.
However, when you self manage you need to do everything yourself, including managing budgets and paying invoices.
Combination plans where some of your funds are self managed and some are plan managed are increasing in popularity. That means you can:
- Self manage the budgets where you need the flexibility to engage the support worker you want at a special rate
- Let your plan manager take care of all of the other administrative processes and paperwork for your other budgets.
Make the switch to Leap in!
If you’d like to speak to a member of our crew to learn more about how to make the NDIS work for you, contact us via our website (online chat available), call us on 1300 05 78 78 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published 24 July 2020, updated 8 September 2021.