How to organise your own team of support workers
Thanks to the NDIS, people with a disability can now organise and choose their own support workers, for the first time in their lives.
This is a very welcome and huge change for many people, allowing them to take control over who supports them - both in their daily life and as they achieve their goals.
But how do you go about finding the right support workers for you?
There are essentially two ways you can do this, each with their own pros and cons depending on your situation:
- Just like before the NDIS was introduced, you can choose to work with a provider of disability services who organises your support workers for you. This allows you to rely on the provider without having to manage your own planning or worry about continuity of your supports.
- Thanks to the NDIS you can now choose to get support from a Support Coordinator who is independent and doesn’t work for an organisation. You can even organise your team of support workers yourself. This means you are in control of when and how the services are delivered to you, and most importantly, by whom. You’re able to research and chose the person who you feel comfortable with, and who understands you and your needs.
If you’d like to get support from an independent support worker and build your own team, this article gives you some handy insights and tips.
Building your team
Step 1. Set your criteria
Before you begin building your team, take a moment to think about what you actually need from your support workers and write down the key points, including:
- Exactly what supports you require
- From what date you need them to begin
- How many hours of supports you’ll require
- Anything specific you’re looking for in a support worker
Establishing these first can be very useful when you begin contacting people and save everyone involved a lot of time. It can be a frustrating experience to only realise after a long conversation that a support worker doesn’t meet one of your key criteria, or can’t work the hours you require, so keep this list handy and be sure to mention them early on.
Step 2. Build a shortlist
Having established what you’re looking for, it’s time to start building a shortlist of the support workers that fit the bill. Take to the internet, chat with people about the support they receive, or contact an organisation who specialise in support workers (more on that later) to do some research. A shortlist of between 5 and 10 potential candidates should allow you to pick and choose to ensure you’re getting the right care.
Step 3. Talk it out
You and your support worker will spend a lot of time together, so it’s really important that the two of you get along well. While some support workers might look good on paper, you might just not be the right fit for each other in real life. Contacting them by phone or in person can help you get a sense of what they’re really like and help ensure you’re compatible. Take your time, be polite and remember – they’re probably just as nervous as you.
Managing your team
Once you’ve selected the right support worker(s), for you, you’ll need to start thinking about the best way to manage them and keep them around.
This might sound like a lot of work, but with the right approach and being as proactive as you can, it doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are some handy tips for maintaining your team of support workers:
- Set expectations up front so that the support workers know what you want from them.
- Provide ongoing feedback to let your support workers know how they’re going. Try to keep your criticisms constructive and focus on what they could be doing differently instead of what they’re doing wrong.
- Open dialogue prevents little issues from growing into bigger issues.
- If you have several support workers, let them know what the others are up to. A logbook, or even a WhatsApp group, is a great way to give them visibility over the care you’re receiving so there’s no gaps.
How to find independent support workers
Finding an independent support worker in your area might sound complicated, but you can get support in finding the perfect match for you.
1. Online platforms
There are some great platforms out there to help you find and connect with support workers. Organisations like Mable, Hireup, Home Care Heroes, Find a Carer and Care Seekers make it easy by providing an online platform where you can create a profile, research and contact support workers, and then manage your team.
If you think an online platform would help you, there are some things to consider before choosing which is right for you.
- How much do they charge?
- Can support workers set their own rates?
- Do they offer comprehensive insurance?
- Can they integrate with a Plan Manager or Support Coordinator like Plan Partners?
- Do they have a mobile app?
- Do they allow access to shift notes?
2. Support Coordination
If you have Support Coordination as part of your NDIS plan, your Support Coordinator could support you organising your team. They can help setting you up on the online platforms and selecting the right support worker for you. However, you will still need to organise your daily supports and manage your own time schedule.
Plan Partners offers Support Coordination to people all over Australia and works closely with all major online platforms for independent support workers.
Not everyone is eligible for Support Coordination, read more about it here.
In this video, Tristram takes you through how he organises his NDIS supports.