Preparing to be a Support Worker in a new sector – it takes more than just completing a course!!

  • News
  • 02/05/2018
Photo of young woman with a questioning look on her face

So you’ve decided you want to work as a Support Worker. Maybe in the Disability sector, perhaps in an Aged Care Facility, Home and Community Care or even a combination of all of the above. But what next?

Once you have completed your course(s) with Field, there are a number of follow up activities you can do to ensure you feel confident and comfortable in applying for work.

1.  Subscribe to a number of Disability/Ageing Support newsletters so you are up to date with developments and employment opportunities in the sector.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Scope Newsletter
  • DARU – Disability Advocacy Resource Unit
  • EAC – Every Australian Counts – Campaign for the NDIS
  • Ageing in Place

2.  Think about the type of duties you may be undertaking in the role of a support worker, and think about how you would like to be assisted/treated in the same situations.

Here is an example of two scenarios where a support worker could have done the same:

Scenario #1:

Samantha had been using disability support workers for 20 years. She expected workers to listen to her and follow her instructions. She was also open to giving new support workers work experience in her home, as long as they listened to her.

Sam needed to be assisted in a certain way so her back would not become sore. This had been negotiated with her Occupational Therapist and accepted and documented in her NDIS Plan.

Kelly was a recently graduated DSW student. She felt confident and comfortable with the skills she had learnt and was ready to assist people with disabilities in the way she had been taught.

Sam agreed to have Kelly work for her. At their first meeting Kelly stated that she had graduated and knew everything about assisting people with disabilities. She showed Kelly her NDIS plan and the O.T. Report.  Sam asked Kelly to assist her in the bathroom.  Kelly then proceeded to assist her in the way she had been taught. Sam told her to stop because her back was beginning to hurt. She then asked Kelly to leave and rang her support agency to explain what had happened and requested another worker.

Scenario #2 – same people; same situation:

When Sam was showing Kelly her plan about her bathroom assistance, Kelly did say it was a different method from what she had been taught but would try Sam’s method. Sam talked her through how to assist her and it went well.

The difference between these two scenarios is that in the second one, the worker listened to the client respectfully. Even though the worker expressed some concerns, they were able to discuss and work through it to everybody’s satisfaction.

3.  Ensure your Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Cover Letter are up to date and ready to go.

It is important to keep your CV up to date so it can be sent straight away when you see a position you want to apply for. Even if you’re still a month away from gaining your certificate, preparation always pays – start brushing it up right away, so that you’ve always got something up to date when an opportunity arises.

It is a great idea to address what you think are the required personality traits of a good support worker in your cover letter, and show your potential employer any of these that you possess.  These soft skills and personality traits should include patience, understanding, willingness to listen, respect for your client and their belongings, and respect for yourself and your role.

4.  Apply for as many positions as you can.  Once you are working in this sector many other employment opportunities may arise.

It is important to both build a positive reputation for yourself in the sector, and learn about the new industry you are entering. Build your professional profile and keep it up to date, that way you can apply for as many positions as possible. Remember that both paid and voluntary work may be of interest to you. Use LinkedIn and other similar websites to connect with other people.

5.  Become familiar with service provider websites, as employment opportunities are advertised there.

  • Scope Victoria
  • Yooralla
  • Careers Victoria

Now with the NDIS, people with disabilities and their families may advertise directly for disability support workers on various disability websites, and anywhere people advertise available roles and job vacancies.  For example:

  • Seek
  • Gumtree

People who are ageing and looking to maintain their independence while living at home also often use similar private arrangements:

  • Better Caring

6.  Consider further study, to make yourself more attractive to employers over other candidates who may be applying for the same role. Field offers a variety of courses which will give you the extra edge when looking for work in the disability and ageing sectors. These are:

7.  Keep your Compliance Training up to date. Remember to stay on top of the following and refresh your skills each year: