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How to build a support crew that’s perfect for you (and keep them!)

Eleven year old disabled biracial Asian Caucasian boy in wheelchair outdoors, sitting and talking with his two multiethnic caregivers

The great thing about finding and engaging support directly is the control it provides; you’re the boss, and as the boss, you can choose to hire the right people for the job. In this case, the job is all about you or your loved one – what works for your life, your needs and your personality.

The right fit is not just about whether someone can do the job. It’s also about whether you’ll work well together, whether you’ll enjoy each other’s company.

But being the boss also comes with greater responsibility. Essentially, you’re creating a partnership between you and each member of your support team. The best support relationships are those that last, so not only do you need to find the right people, you’ll want to make sure they’re as invested in the working relationship as you are.

The great news is that by investing a little time at the beginning making sure the right people are in place, we’ve seen hundreds of Mable clients build long lasting, collaborative relationships with those that support them.

But what are the tips to finding the right people, and more importantly, how can you make them stay? As the NDIS and Consumer Directed Care are generating greater demand for skilled workers in the industry, what can you do to make sure your team stick with you for the long haul?We spoke with members of the Mable team to find out…

Do your checks and balances

Customer Engagement Manager Dave Colman works with clients who are new to the Mable platform and might need some assistance getting started. He recommends from the outset ensuring the workers you are speaking with have the right skills and experience to do the job. Equally important is ensuring they have the qualifications required for them to provide the specific services you need.

For example, if you need a support worker to work with your kids, do they already have a Working with Children Check? And if not, can you wait for them to apply for one? There’s a range of support work that comes with specific qualifications. Here are some examples.

  • Assistance with Medication or Medication Management – for the handling or administering of medication.
  • Manual Transfer & Mobility – for any physical assistance needed with walking or moving from one chair to another.
  • Hoist & Transfer – for work that requires movement with a hoist, for example, from your bed to a chair.

Dave warns of progressing too far in discussions with a potential worker before you’ve established that they have the right qualifications. The result can be a lot of wasted time and frustration for both parties.

The following two questions can also help you make sure the worker ticks the right boxes before you delve too much into specifics about your arrangement or start investigating whether the worker has the right personality.

    1. When are you needing the support to begin?
    2. What kind of schedule/frequency would you be looking for?

Luckily, Mable helps to take care of some of these checks by allowing you to filter for them when you search for appropriate workers.

Take the lead

With the Mable platform, you’re in the driver’s seat, which means you can choose which workers you approach about your jobs. Practically, there are two ways you can do this; by searching for suitable workers based on your chosen criteria (skills, qualifications, experience, availability, location etc.), then emailing selected workers directly, or by posting a job detailing what you need and waiting for workers to contact to you.

Here, it’s a good idea to hedge your bets and do both! If you find in a couple of days that your job post is not getting the response you’d like, you can keep it fresh by cancelling, rewording and posting again.
Once you have identified some people who look suitable, we recommend picking the top five to start a conversation via the platform. From there, you can get a better idea of who might be best suited to the job.

Community Engagement Manager, Luke Van Schie points out that when it comes to assessing a person’s skills, a deeper investigation is always a good idea. “Just like doctors will have different specialties and focus areas, not everyone with a Certificate 4 in Disability will have the right skills for your needs. I would recommend devising a set of questions in the form of scenarios that would show a worker’s ability to think on their feet and problem solve.”

Find someone you click with

Luke suggests that at all stages of the interview process, the secret to finding someone you click with is to let your personality shine.

“Be yourself in the way you post a job or message a worker. The right person will respond to the real you.”

He recommends that it’s also a good idea to have a chat to the potential worker on the phone or in person. Remember that they might be nervous in the interview, so doing this in a relaxing setting will help you both understand if you’re the right fit. Great support is in high demand, so it’s just as important to make a good impression on the worker so they feel comfortable you’ll work well together. So, how can you make sure they like you as much as you like them?

Luke believes that a relationship built on mutual respect can begin with simple actions like, where possible, replying to messages in a timely manner. He also recommends shying away from discussing money immediately.

“Don’t look for the lowest rate. Chances are even if you are paying a premium, you are still getting more out of you funding pool hiring directly via Mable than if you were with a traditional provider. Have a discussion with your worker; they may have a wealth of experience that could add real value to your life.”

Making it stick

Once you have a great support team in place, it can be disappointing if the arrangement doesn’t work out for the length of time you may have hoped for. According to Dave, getting that initial process right will often contribute to creating a longstanding, meaningful working relationship.

“Staying power is really about setting expectations with the support worker up front about the type of support that is needed and arranging a meetup to ensure the support worker gels with the participant and their family before support commences.”

Chances are if you have been engaging support for some time, you’re used to communicating with your team about what works and what doesn’t. For those who are new to the experience, remember that providing feedback to your support workers once you’ve started working together is the only way they’ll know if they’re succeeding. Remember to be constructive in your feedback. If you’re not happy with something, be clear about what you might prefer.

Many people who engage support via the Mable platform have a team of workers who help them with different aspects of their life. That means their working environment is also made up of your other chosen workers who they will need to communicate with to ensure you are getting the support you need. Make sure you introduce your workers to each other and consider a ‘communication book’ where workers can read one another’s shift notes. Luke suggests adding essential dates and support documents to the book to ensure consistency in the delivery of service. For many clients, a place where you can all connect, like a What’s App, Viber or Facebook chat group between you and your team can really go a long way to making sure you can coordinate seamlessly with each other.

With Mable, you have the comfort of choosing your own support team and managing them all in one place. Follow these tips and to make sure you get the best possible start as you build a crew that’s perfect for you. Start searching or post a job today.

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