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Tips and tricks as you build a great team of support

Last updated 2 May 2023

The word ‘team’ has been used very deliberately in this article as it implies what is suggested here – relying on only one support worker is never a good idea! Here we unpack the reasons why and provide some tips to assist you navigate your way through the process of building a great team of support using Mable

Let’s start with the ‘why’. 

Why is it not a good idea to rely on one worker only? People get sick, take holidays, aren’t right, move on. Being reliant on one person creates vulnerability. If that person leaves or is off sick for any length of time, what happens then? Better to have a second person (at least) who knows the ropes, who knows the person being supported, who is already part of the team and who may be able to step in and take on the additional hours to avoid gaps in support when and if needed. 

Plus, different strokes for different folks! The person who provides the necessary personal care support at home, may not be the right person to attend a footy game on the weekend or to support a catch up with the grandkids. The roles are very different and require a different skill set. 

Different people bring varying life experiences and can add to the person’s life in ways that aren’t concrete i.e because of the type of person they are and because of the life experiences they have had. People bring themselves, their interests, personality, life history, family backgrounds and cultures with them into the lives of the people they support. This can be a real bonus.

Additionally, and especially, if the person being supported lives alone or at least doesn’t live with family or friends, more than one person providing support is an important safeguard, as there is another pair of eyes seeing what is going on in the person’s life. As some recent, terrible events have shown, leaving a person in the hands of only one paid support, who may be unscrupulous, can be very risky.

Tip 1

Involve the person to be supported as much as possible in the discussions about the role/s to be filled and the skill set that is required. For some people this will be easy and they will have strong preferences and opinions of their own. For others it may take more time and effort to engage them in the process. For some, these decisions will need to be made on their behalf, with them always at the centre of the thinking and planning.

Tip 2

You might be able to engage your current  support worker to play an active role in the process of finding others to join the team. People in the Mable community have found this a good way of building a team with a support worker taking the lead and assisting with some of the administrative work that finding and managing a team of support workers requires.

Tip 3

Conduct an audit of the skill set or experience/interests that are missing from the current team and the roles that need to be filled can then be identified. Can anyone provide the type of support that is needed, or are specific skills required? 

Tip 4

Consider the nature of the support that is needed? Is it mostly to support someone in their home with housekeeping or is it predominantly personal care support? 

Is it mostly to support someone to get out and about in the community – to attend classes, do the weekly shop, get to the Doctor’s, learn to travel on a bus to get to work or to participate in a sport?

Different people are good at different things. Once the nature of the support has been identified, it helps to then narrow the search to the right person or people for the job. Be specific about what is needed and what the role is:

Some examples:

  • Homemaker assistant: assists a person with cooking, cleaning, gardening, making beds, laundry
  • Leisure assistant: supports a person with the out and about in the community stuff: sport, theatre, concerts, travel, visiting family and friends
  • Personal care assistant: showering, toileting, dressing, assisting with meals, hair and nail care
  • Allied Health assistant: medications, physiotherapy, seizure support, choking and inhalation prevention

For some of these supports, training and certification may be a prerequisite. In the instance of someone needing to be given medication, only a person who has done the recognised training can administer medication. 

Tip 5

Create a Position Description based on the audit that has been conducted identifying the role that needs to be filled. A Position Description helps to guide the discussion about what it is that a support worker is being engaged to do. It can focus the mind and helps the person who will be supervising the workers. It provides something to come back to if the person isn’t performing the role they were engaged to perform.

Benefits of having a Position Description:

  • 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. Provides a good benchmark to measure performance against.

Tip 6

If you need any assistance regarding building a team of independent support workers, please call 1300 73 65 73.
A Dedicated Support Specialist can:

  • help you identify what you’re looking for in a support worker;
  • show you how to search the support worker profiles, shortlist your favourites, reach out to them and even arrange a free meet and greet; and
  • help you write a job post so suitable support workers can respond.


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