Building your support team
Writing a great job post for a support worker
Now that you have thought about goal setting, the nature of support, and the what, where, when, who and how of support, this will help you in the creation of a great position description and job advertisement that hopefully attracts a great support person.
A well-constructed position description will get the balance right between being too prescriptive and being clear about what the job entails.
Start by coming up with a job title that describes, as best you can, the type of job it is. This is, in part, a style of recruitment called ‘role based recruitment’.
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?
|Overall purpose of the role||Some of the tasks required|
|Assisting a person to live independently in their own home||– Shopping |
|Supporting someone to do more in their local community||– Attend church services|
– Go to the movies
– Visit friends
– Travel on public transport
– Being a good neighbour
|Assisting someone to get healthy via physical exercise||– Support attendance at bootcamp or gym|
– Teach swimming
|Supporting a young person to organise their study life||– Timetabling|
– Resource management
– Study support
|Supporting a young child in the family home||– Personal care|
– Assistance at mealtime/bathtime/bedtime
– Assist with at home therapy sessions
Not everyone is going to want to write a Position Description (PD), but it certainly helps when you get down to the discussion about what it is you are engaging someone to do for you. It makes you really think about it and helps you in your supervisory role, once you have paid support in your life. You then have something in writing to come back to if the person isn’t performing the role you engaged them to do.
Benefits of having a PD:
- Focuses the mind on what is actually required
- Clarity for all parties about the role
- Guides the induction process for a new person
- Can identify specific training requirements for the role
- Can help with performance challenges if someone is not performing the role as expected. Gives you something to refer back to.
Components of a Position Description
The PD can be very formal and structured or informal and conversational. The tone and style depends a lot on the actual role. If you are engaging someone to provide support around participating in a hobby like fishing, it would be very informal and just cover the points relevant to the activity.
If you are engaging someone to assist you manage your team of four paid supports, you might make it more formal, as you are probably going to be paying a higher hourly rate and relying on this person to perform at a higher level of responsibility.
Example – Informal PD
What is this document? Position Description
Broad description of the role: The role of the Fishing Coach is to help Steven pursue his interest in all things to do with fishing. Steven is 35 years old and has a mild/moderate intellectual disability. Steven is a sensitive, gentle and caring person who has loved fishing and boating all his life. Steven lives in Utopia.
Steven and his family believe he needs support in the following areas:
Specifics of the role:
- Assisting Steven to acquire the necessary equipment he will need to fish
- Assisting Steven to identify local fishing spots that are accessible and safe
- Helping Steven to monitor the weather and time of year that is best for fishing
- Assisting Steven to build and then maintain the skills he needs to enable successful fishing activity like baiting the hook, managing the fishing rod, casting the line, netting the fish etc.
- Assisting Steven to connect with people external to family who share his interest in fishing.
- Accompany Steven on day-long fishing expeditions
- Supporting Steven to prepare and cook the fish he catches
Expectations of the role: The Fishing Coach is expected to develop a stable and reliable relationship with Steven and focus the support on ‘doing with’ not ‘doing for’ Steven. It is expected that Steven will go fishing regularly and that this hobby will assist with community connection and relationship building.
Employment arrangements: This is a casual position. Hours and days of work will depend on the weather and the season, but we are looking at a minimum of one to two days per week including a weekend day. Hourly rate to be negotiated at the interview.
Example – Formal PD
|Location: Where will the role be carried out?|
Days/Hours: What days and hours are required?
|Role Purpose: What is the purpose of the role?|
what is the person responsible for?
Specific tasks that need to be performed and achieved
|Key Performance Indicators:|
How will you know that the tasks have been undertaken?
|Experience required: What experience does the person need to have to be able to perform the role well?|
|Attributes: What skill set does the person need to have to be able to perform the role well?|
|Personal qualities: What personal qualities do you want the person to have?|
|Other: Are there other requirements of the job that haven’t been identified elsewhere ie drivers licence and own car; available to work weekends etc.?|
|Employment arrangements: What type of employment arrangement is it?|
The reason you don’t want to be too prescriptive when writing a PD, is because:
- It’s good to have a bit of flexibility in the PD as sometimes people bring skills, expertise, knowledge and experience that you aren’t aware of in the beginning.
- The role you are engaging the person to perform can change over time as the relationship between the person being supported and the paid person settles in and matures. They may decide to do things differently or do different things.
- You want to encourage and enable initiative being shown. You really don’t want someone who ‘works to the PD’ and say’s ‘that’s not my job’ when you ask them to do something that’s needed, but that isn’t particularly described in their PD.
It’s also important to review the PD at least annually to see whether there has been a drift away from some of the core responsibilities and requirements of the role or that there might now be some new tasks that are required that could now be included in it.
Is advertising really necessary?
Is it possible to use your own networks first to fill a vacancy? Does a member of your existing support team know someone who might be suitable? Can you just ask around first? Nothing beats word of mouth and recommendations from someone you know.
If there is someone within your community who you think would be a great fit, you can even bring them to the Mable platform and have them sign up as your support worker. Find out why this has many benefits.
Where to advertise for a support person?
Posting a job on Mable is a great way to connect with and book Independent Support Workers. Every booking made on Mable gives clients an extensive range of safeguards included in Mable’s platform fee, for your peace of mind and assurance.
Through Mable, you have the freedom to book a support worker of your choice, as well as control over when and where you need that support, and what you want to pay for it.
Learn more about how to post a job on Mable.
Broadly, the best places to advertise are those places that you think will have the type of person you are seeking based on the required skill set. We’ve already discussed how you can look within your own community to find someone who might be the perfect fit for your support needs, and bring them to Mable.
Other places you can advertise include:
- Mainstream/community avenues: personal trainers, cleaners/mowing services, tutors, mobile hairdressers, etc
- Internet sites and newsletters: Gumtree, Seek, Ethical Jobs, local papers/publications, church/school/club/university/TaFE newsletters
- Be on the lookout yourself…have your recruitment antenna up!
Writing the advert
Having created a position description, most of the work is done! It’s just a matter of pulling the facts together into an appealing, factual advert that is posted in the right location to attract the right person. If you are going to use Mable’s Job Post feature, a lot of this work has already been done for you.
Components of an advertisement
Remember, this isn’t the position description, so it doesn’t need to contain all the finer details, just enough to pique the interest of the right person.
You’ve already come up with a great job title that describes the job you are advertising, so lead with that.
Who is the person to be supported?: A friendly guy with a mild intellectual disability living in Utopia seeks a supportive, flexible person to assist him manage his home and life.
What is the purpose of the role?: This is an opportunity for a fulfilling job and to make a positive difference to someone’s life.
What are the requirements of the role?: The role provides companionship and assistance with homemaking and pursuit of hobbies i.e. doing puzzles, bird watching, picnics, attending church, meal planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning.
What are the hours/days required?: Availability required Wednesday 4-8pm, one Friday evening per month, plus 4-5 hrs every alternate Saturday and/or Sunday. Driver’s licence required.
Employment arrangements and pay rates: This will depend on the avenue through which you engage someone. If through Mable, there is no need to add this bit, but you may need to think about it if you are employing directly.
Any additional experience or training requirements?: No experience necessary. This flexible position will suit someone who is energetic, can keep house, cook and who is a ‘people person’. All the usual checks required, plus a full driver’s licence and a comprehensively insured car. A full Position Description will be provided following initial contact.
Contact details for applications: Please respond in writing providing your resume and demonstrating your interest and suitability by ‘closing date’, to <email>
Screening your applicants
Once you have posted your advert, be ready to screen your applicants and narrow the field down to those you will interview. Be specific! What gender are you seeking? It’s okay to have a preferred gender when engaging people for specific roles. If you are looking for a person to support a young woman with personal care, it’s perfectly legitimate to be seeking female support. If you are looking for someone to support your teenage son out and about in the community, it’s perfectly okay to limit your recruitment process to young men.
Similarly, you’ll be thinking about ‘age group’ and looking for someone in a compatible age range? Are you needing someone who lives locally? Is having a current, full drivers licence essential? Is anything else an essential requirement? Hopefully, your advertisement has been crafted in a way that attracts the right cohort of applicants but if not, it’s okay to choose those who most closely match the type of person you are looking for.
Respond to all applications, even if just to say ‘thank you for your application, and in this instance your application has not been successful.’
Don’t waste time on people who haven’t done what you asked of them in the advert. In most sectors, applicants are expected to provide a written application for a job and provide a CV or resume.