Disability support worker

What they do

A disability support worker provides personal, physical and emotional support to people with disability who require assistance with daily living. They may provide assistance with showering, dressing, preparing food and eating, and often facilitate or assist with outings and other social activities. The level of assistance provided will depend on the ability and health of the client. Support may also include assistance with self-medication and arranging activities to enhance the client's physical, emotional and intellectual development. They may also assist with housekeeping tasks including vacuuming and cleaning, as well as shopping and running errands.

Working conditions

Disability support workers provide care either in their client's own home, or in a residential care setting. They are often expected to carry out their work in rostered shifts and may be expected to work weekends and at night. Sometimes, disability support workers may be required to live-in with their client. They carry out their duties under direct or regular supervision, and within clearly defined care plans or organisational guidelines.

Tools and technologies

A disability support worker usually works with clients who require assistance with daily tasks and activities. This can include the use of equipment such as hoists to lift the client in and out of bed, or swivel cushions to assist clients when getting into and out of cars. They may also utilise special communication technology, such as software that produces spoken output for people with hearing difficulties, and magnifies or presents information as Braille for those with sight disabilities. A disability support worker may also need to be familiar with vehicle modifications such as wheelchair hoists, modified driving controls and specially modified wheelchair accessible vehicles.

How do I become one?

Education and training

It is possible to work as a disability support worker without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in individual care, disability or a related area. To explore this sector further, browse the CHC Community Services training packages range.

In Western Australia, Certificate III in Individual Support and Certificate IV in Disability are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations. To find a training provider near you, browse the Jobs and Skills WA website or visit the My Skills website.

You can also undertake a support worker. The disability work (level 3) traineeship usually takes 12 months to complete and is available as a school-based traineeship. The disability work (level 4) traineeship typically takes 24 months to complete.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Coordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Required registration and licensing

To work as a disability worker in Western Australia, you may need to obtain a current Working with Children Check issued by the Working with Children Screening Unit of the Department of Communities. You may also require a National Police Certificate from the Australian Federal Police.

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