Building your support team

Your guide to building your support team.

Last updated 9 November 2023

So, here you are, ready to build your very own support team. Recruiting a support team may sound like a daunting task, but our comprehensive guide will take you step by step through the process of finding, engaging interviewing and creating your support team in the best way possible.

Engaging paid vs unpaid support

Before you start looking for support for yourself or someone you know, there are some fundamental questions to answer, such as ‘what does the person need that can’t be met in any other way’, ‘who is in the person’s life right now and how do they support them?’.

Once you have these answers, you can start to understand what your job post would look like and separate current, informal support (from people already in the person’s life) from the additional support that needs to be purchased.

Learn more about recruiting paid versus unpaid support, how they differ, and how to get the balance right.

What to consider when looking for support

Once you’ve decided that you need paid support, the next step is to find out the ‘what, where, when, who and how’ of support. This means answering the following questions:

  • What do you need support for? (Homemaking skills such as meal preparation, community participation, personal care or medical?)
  • Where do you need this support? (At home, at the gym, at work, etc.)
  • When is the support required? (What time of the day, how many times, etc.)
  • Who’s the best person to provide the support? (Considering the age of the support worker, gender, personality, skills, etc.)
  • How do you want the support to be provided? (the extent of involvement of the support person)

Following this, you can tackle the question of where to find this support, where you can advertise it, or can you bring your existing support person to the Mable platform?

Learn more about factors to consider when looking for support.

What qualifications should a support worker have?

Before you engage paid support, it’s important to think about qualifications around support work – and how important that is to you personally.

In Australia, formal qualifications to undertake paid support work are not required by law. It does, however, depend on who is engaging the person and what requirements they set around qualifications, as well as the type of work the person is going to be engaged in.

If you are looking for support workers on Mable, for example, and they are offering to provide ‘personal care’, they need to have minimum qualifications. If offering ‘social and domestic support’ only, no formal qualification is required on Mable, but there are other minimum requirements a person must reach prior to being approved on Mable.

Qualifications aside, it’s also important to focus on things like relevant experience and personal qualities. Certificates and degrees don’t guarantee the quality of the support provided, it’s your due diligence in the recruitment process that is more likely to assist in finding the right person.

Learn more about qualifications and skills to look for when seeking support workers.

Writing a great job post for a support worker

Once you’ve understood the nature of support and the aspects (the what, when, where, who) of support needed, it’ll prove useful in writing a great job description that helps you find the right support person.

For this, consider:

  • What ‘role’ do you want the person to be assisted to perform?
  • What is the ‘role’ you want the support person to take on?

Then, it’s time to create a position description. A position description can be formal and structured or informal and conversational – it depends on your requirements. Once you have created the position description, you can advertise for the job. However, if you think there’s someone within you network or community who might fit the description well, you can bring them to the Mable platform and have them sign up as your support worker.

Other places you can advertise include mainstream/community avenues, internet sites, publications (print and digital), etc.

Learn more about creating the position description and putting up a great job advertisement.

Interviewing a support worker

Once you have vetted the applicants and created a shortlist of candidates that you like best to create your support team, it’s time to interview them.

Interviewing is an extremely important step in the recruitment process because people may tend to exaggerate their skills; additionally, you’re bringing a stranger into a home, so it matters how they present themselves to you and talk about the role.

Learn step by step how to interview a potential support worker, how to prepare, questions to ask, and red flags to look out for.

Managing your support team

Managing people can be time consuming and effort intensive, but when you’ve found the right people to support you, it can be immensely rewarding. In working with a paid support team, you will need to draw on your ‘people skills’, emotional intelligence and diplomacy skills, as well as needing to know a bit about industrial relations and how things work depending on how you are engaging your supports.

How the NDIS plan is being managed — Agency managed, Plan managed or  Self-managed — will also impact how the supports are engaged.

You will need to consider a few things such as:

  • Who will manage the team?
  • Can you nominate a team leader?
  • What might a lead worker do?
  • How can you manage challenges?
  • How to maintain cohesion and communication within the team
  • How can you support your team?

Learn more about managing your support team.

About the author
Catherine has worked in the disability arena for almost 30 years and has co-created and facilitated hundreds of workshops for people with disability and their families. Catherine has two family members with disability, both of whom have a self-managed NDIS plan, with Catherine as their nominee. Catherine acknowledges the generosity of the people who have shared their expertise, time and knowledge with her. Her articles are a combination of what she’s learnt from others and what she’s learnt from putting that knowledge into practice.

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