Understanding Support Staff

Living with a disability in a community can be challenging, not only because of how a disability can influence normal everyday functioning, but when there is a need to ask for and accept support from a paid employee, it becomes another level of challenge.

We all have our own ways of living and managing in our own home. Having to make accommodations to cope because we are all different often means we have established habits and strategies to make life easier. If you have reduced vision, a support worker moving your items or furniture can cause frustration and even injuries. A support worker who is engaged and vetted by you to assist you to live more independently will not have your full insight into how you have made your own accommodations to manage. They might have a Certificate III in Disability Support, but we ARE all different and a person with a specific disability is ONE person living with that issue. Despite their training and experience, your support staff need YOUR assistance to understand what makes life easier for YOU. They need your help as much as you may need their skills.

What you don’t need in a support worker is a person who believes they understand 100% of your lived experience. If they do, and if they tell you they do, you have the wrong worker! They may understand how the condition affects a body, but they need to learn from you how it affects YOUR life.

Most disability support staff engage in training for this work because they have a desire to make a positive difference to another person’s life. They have skills that are needed by others. Skills are only 1 component of their work. You can train for skills but you should select your workers for attitude – a willingness to listen to you and learn from you. This is a partnership where there should be Win-Win for both parties.

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