NDIS Support Worker: A Core Discussion

What is an NDIS Support Worker?

An NDIS support worker is any individual employed or engaged as a volunteer to deliver NDIS support and services to people with disabilities. These workers may receive compensation or work on a voluntary basis, and they can be self-employed, employees, contractors, or consultants. The role of an NDIS support worker involves offering care, supervision, and support both within and outside the home. Support workers play a pivotal role in aiding individuals with disabilities to navigate their daily lives, attain the goals outlined in their NDIS plans, and access essential services and support.

NDIS Support Workers’ Duties and Responsibilities

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) aids millions of Australians with disabilities, known as NDIS Participants, with the assistance of support workers. NDIS ensures that individuals in need of assistance can access essential services as necessary, which contributes to the achievement of their set goals. As each participant is unique, support workers and the assistance they provide are as equally diverse. A thorough understanding of the various needs of the participants and the individual support provided by the NDIS Commission is important in performing care services and assistance. The responsibilities of an NDIS support worker can be tackled in three major categories.

Household Support  

An NDIS support worker who provides Household Support regularly delivers services to clients in their homes. The level of assistance provided by the worker depends on the NDIS Participant’s disability and the difficulties they face in performing domestic tasks and other household errands.

Personal Care Support

The NDIS support worker administering Personal Care Support is responsible for assisting the individual with a disability in overall hygiene. Depending on the level of support the participant needs, this may include duties such as helping with dressing and supporting them through programmes in order to maintain their welfare. 

Emotional Support

An NDIS support worker specialising in Emotional Support takes on a companion role for individuals with disabilities. Given the potential isolation associated with living with a disability, these support workers offer a profound level of understanding, patience, and empathy to NDIS participants as they navigate their emotional well-being.

The following is a more in-depth discussion of the NDIS support worker’s roles:

Daily Support: NDIS support workers maintain client records to streamline home visits. They offer assistance with meal preparation, cooking, shopping, cleaning, and transportation, with a focus on accommodating individuals with limited mobility.

Medication Supervision: NDIS support workers assess participants’ health conditions for timely medication administration. In cases of urgent medical needs, they liaise with healthcare services and supervise proper medication adherence.

Customising Support Plan: Support workers engage in communication with NDIS participants to collaboratively develop support plans that address individual goals and requests while ensuring the effective allocation of funds to cover the essential services needed.

Collaborating with Health Professionals: NDIS Support Workers collaborate with health professionals to address individual needs and monitor the participant’s progress. In situations where attendance for routine checks is a challenge, healthcare providers stand ready to extend their services to the participant’s home.

Transport Services: Support workers are expected to provide transportation for the participants they support, whether for outings or medical appointments. This entails ensuring the participant is safely driven around in a wheelchair-friendly vehicle with sufficient space and amenities, as specified in their NDIS support plan.

Collaboration with Family and Other Personnel: Support workers involve family members in programmes and collaborate to create a beneficial environment for the NDIS participants. Workers also engage with teachers to promote a conducive learning setup for studying participants.

Participant Communication: Support workers facilitate discussions on care service plans, empowering the NDIS participants they support by actively listening to their preferences and fostering meaningful engagement in the decision-making process.

Support with Community Involvement: Support workers assist the NDIS participants they support in engaging actively in social events, ensuring comprehensive logistical support for transportation and accommodation during extended outings. Support workers also collaborate with disability support groups to address social needs.

How Do I Become An NDIS Support Worker in Australia?

Employment as an NDIS Support Worker does not mandate formal qualifications; however, candidates must undergo mandatory background checks and maintain current immunisations. Possession of a tertiary qualification in individual support is considered beneficial, and there is a potential provision of on-the-job training to enhance care service delivery to the NDIS participant.

A quick overview of the steps to become an NDIS support worker is outlined below:

  1. Qualify by completing and obtaining certification, such as a Certificate III in Individual Support, Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability), or Certificate IV in Disability.
    Certificate III in Individual Support (CHC33015)
    Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) (CHC33015)
    Certificate IV in Disability (CHC43115)
  2. Ensure that immunisations are up-to-date. Furthermore, some employers may request that you possess a current Australian driver’s license and have your own vehicle.
  3. Submit an online application for the NDIS Worker Check. This might necessitate additional checks like a Working with Children Check, a Police Check, or a First Aid Certificate. A current or prospective employer verifies the validity of an NDIS Worker Check.

Can A Friend or Family Member Be an NDIS Support Worker?

The NDIS recognises the significance of support from family and friends as an integral aspect of life for individuals, whether with a disability or not. Consequently, the NDIS does not deem it reasonable and necessary to allocate funds for these informal support networks.

However, some disability-related health supports may fund training a support worker, a family member, or a friend to acquire the necessary skills to offer disability-related health assistance. If another individual is to provide disability-related care, it is imperative that they receive training from a qualified practitioner.

What are the NDIS Support Workers’ Guiding Principles of Service

While delivering support, NDIS providers and support workers are guided by the following principles: respecting individual rights, ensuring privacy, delivering competent services, maintaining ethical conduct, addressing concerns promptly, and preventing harm.

  • Respect for Individual Rights: Uphold freedom of expression, self-determination, and decision-making in line with relevant laws and conventions.
  • Privacy Consideration: Ensure the privacy of individuals with disabilities, safeguarding their confidential information.
  • Competent Service Delivery: Provide support and services with care, competence, and a focus on safety.
  • Ethical Conduct: Act with integrity, honesty, and transparency in all interactions and dealings.
  • Prompt Handling of Concerns: Take immediate steps to address and act upon concerns that could impact the quality and safety of support.
  • Prevention and Response to Harm: Proactively prevent and respond to all forms of violence, exploitation, neglect, and abuse.
  • Prevention of Sexual Misconduct: Take all reasonable steps to prevent incidents of sexual misconduct.

What Can A Support Worker Not Do?

In the role of a Support Worker, individuals are expected to ensure the protection of others from potential risks of injury or harm that can be reasonably anticipated. This responsibility involves possessing a comprehensive understanding of the NDIS participants, with particular attention to their disability and living situation, as well as a clear awareness of their capabilities, knowledge, and limitations. It is imperative for individuals in this role to refrain from offering assistance or advice beyond the defined scope of their role or expertise, including areas such as financial advice, family counselling, or relationship guidance.

Simple Rules for Keeping Boundaries

  1. Avoid establishing personal connections with clients or their family, friends, and support networks. Maintain a healthy work-life balance to fulfil personal needs outside of your professional duties.
  2. Refrain from engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with clients, their family, friends, or individuals within their support network.
  3. Do not bring clients into contact with your own family, friends, or support network. For instance, refrain from inviting them to home-based events or family gatherings. It is essential to maintain a clear distinction between your work and personal life.
  4. Avoid socialising with clients, their families, or friends outside of work hours. Your professional responsibilities conclude at the end of your shift.
  5. Do not give or use alcohol, drugs, or any other illicit substances while on duty.
  6. Avoid being tardy or leaving early, as such behaviour is noticeable to both colleagues and clients. Plan your schedule and travel arrangements to allow ample time for your responsibilities.
  7. Avoid smoking in the presence of the participants, and do not provide or purchase cigarettes for them. Promote healthy lifestyle choices instead.
  8. Avoid seeking, requesting, or offering monetary assistance to clients. Refrain from discussing your personal financial or other life challenges with clients.
  9. Prohibit clients from operating either your personal or work vehicle.
  10. Refrain from offering guidance beyond your skills and expertise, such as in financial, marital, relationship, or medical matters. Direct individuals to qualified professionals for any required support.
  11. Uphold confidentiality and privacy by refraining from sharing client information with family or friends. Engage in discussions with colleagues and use peer supervision for appropriate communication.
  12. Evaluate if clients have appointed guardians for personal decision-making or administrators for financial decisions and consult accordingly when needed.
  13. Avoid revealing personal information about yourself, other colleagues, or fellow clients. This includes details such as phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, and marital information.
  14. Refrain from criticising, complaining about, or discussing matters concerning other colleagues, staff, or your employer with clients or their families. Address work-related concerns and complaints within the workplace setting.
  15. Avoid requesting money, gifts, or special favours from your clients.

NDIS Support Workers: Professional Boundaries

Professional boundaries are the rules that protect both clients and workers from harm and ensure a safe working relationship. Support workers should be familiar with their organisation’s code of conduct or related policies on professional boundaries.

Support workers are expected to uphold fairness, compassion, and professionalism in their interactions, both within and beyond the organisational framework. The worker’s responsibilities should be executed in a way that adheres to the organisation’s policies, legal obligations, and the unique needs and preferences of the client.

Numerous examples of inappropriate behaviours or practices regarding professional boundaries include, but are not limited to:

  • Thinking that you’re the only person who knows what the client needs
  • Requesting for special treatment or favours
  • Disclosing unsolicited personal stories and information
  • Meeting the client beyond your designated shift hours
  • Remaining on-site after the shift has concluded
  • Unsuitable body language and non-verbal cues
  • Actions or expressions that would be perceived as unprofessional
  • Sharing remarks and jokes regarding sexuality and/or relationships
  • Unnecessary physical contact or touch in delivering support
  • Receiving cash, presents, or taking loans and borrowing money
  • Observing or endorsing legal documents being signed or discussed
  • Any conduct that the client, family, or other parties may perceive as compromising professional boundaries

Importance of Support Workers in the NDIS Scheme

Support workers play a huge role in empowering NDIS participants and enabling them to exercise autonomy and self-determination in decision-making. Through the provision of guidance and encouragement, the support workers contribute significantly to the development of a participant’s confidence and essential skills, fostering the ability to make informed choices. Furthermore, the process of hiring workers contributes to the holistic framework within the NDIS, aimed at enhancing the overall quality of life for NDIS participants while also playing a crucial role in facilitating income for support workers.