Over four million people in Australia have a disability, and that figure continues to grow every year. Of that, 19.1% of the Queensland population have a disability. 

According to government research, around one and a half million of those with disabilities in Australia require support with core tasks. As such, the need for disability support workers has intensified to become one of the most necessary roles in health care today. 

But what does a disability support worker actually do? This article looks at the specific duties and responsibilities of a disability support worker, and the various study pathways to formally prepare for work in this much relied on sector. 

Table of Contents

  • Disability Support Work: Fast Facts 
  • Disability Support Worker Duties and Responsibilities 
  • Disability Support Courses 

Disability Support Work: Fast Facts 

Disability Support Worker Duties and Responsibilities 

When you consider the figures, it’s no wonder our nation requires a dedicated team of highly specialised disability support workers to help the thousands reliant on help each day to make their lives easier.    

But what do people working in disability support do? Put simply, it all depends on the individual they care for and the severity of their condition. 

Every person with a disability has different needs, which makes it impossible to create a ‘one-size-fits-all’ type of job description for a support worker. That said, there are a number of basic tasks common within this type of role. These primary disability support worker duties may include: 

  • Assisting with personal care – bathing, dressing and toileting 
  • Cooking and supporting the client through mealtimes  
  • Shopping for groceries or other necessities (clothes, toiletries) 
  • Administering essential medication and redressing wounds  
  • Housekeeping: cleaning and vacuuming 
  • Completing admin tasks and paying the bills 
  • Accompanying the client on medical visits 
  • Taking the client on social excursions 
  • Providing an opportunity for human interaction and friendship 

Duties and Responsibilities of a Disability Worker
Then, there are people managing more complex needs, for which the
disability support worker duties become even more crucial, encompassing some of the following types: 

  • Administering complex medical procedures, such as catheter care or advanced wound management  
  • Implementing specialised intervention plans for clients with severe behavioural issues, including crisis intervention  
  • Providing support for clients with mental health conditions, including managing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders  
  • Assisting with a diverse range of rehabilitation exercises and therapies as prescribed by physical, occupational, or speech therapist 
  • Using specialised feeding techniques for clients with swallowing difficulties or those requiring tube feeding  
  • Supporting clients with communication impairments, including using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices  
  • Assisting clients with sensory processing disorders by implementing sensory integration techniques and creating sensory-friendly environments 
  • Assisting clients with complex mobility needs, such as using mechanical lifts or transferring clients with significant physical disabilities 
  • Providing cognitive support and memory aids for clients with conditions such as dementia or traumatic brain injury 
  • Assisting clients with educational needs by implementing individualised education plans (IEPs) or other learning support strategies. 
  • Managing challenging behaviors using training techniques like Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) 
  • Monitoring health conditions such as diabetes management, seizure management, and respiratory support. 

When you consider the wide-ranging roles and responsibilities of a disability support worker, it becomes evident just how much this workforce requires specialist training to prepare for the industry’s demands. And this is where formal education becomes paramount. 

Disability Support Courses 

People with a desire to help others in need typically bring a set of personal attributes to the table – like empathy, positivity, a caring persona, and the ability to listen and provide guidance.  

However, in such a demanding hands-on supporting role, it is important workers are trained to equip themselves with a range of skills, practical and social. As such, individuals looking to progress in this sector require a formal qualification. 

There are three disability support courses to consider before seeking employment in this sector. 

Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) 

This is considered an entry-level course for anyone looking to work in disability support. It teaches students a range of basic skills to help vulnerable people at home and in the community. After completing the course, individuals are equipped to work legally and ethically, follow safe practises for direct client care and support independence and well-being. 

Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing and Disability)

Another entry-level qualification, this course is designed to start individuals on their journey towards helping others. However, alongside teaching basic skills for effective disability support, it incorporates skills to look after older adults. Therefore, it is ideal for anyone who wishes to switch between supporting older adults or those with a disability once completed, and students can seek a role in either specialism. 

Certificate IV in Disability Support

Individuals who have completed Certificate III may choose to continue their studies with this qualification. Anyone who wants to gain advanced care skills or to embark on senior roles like a team leader or manager, is encouraged to complete this course.  

All three courses take an average of twelve months to complete. Personal circumstances could result in earlier completion.  

The Future of Disability Support

The growing need for disability support workers shows how important this role is in our society.  

If you want a job that offers stability, a generous salary and helps others in meaningful ways, now is the perfect time to start. With proper training and a caring attitude, you can enter this essential and rewarding field.  

Browse our funded disability support courses today and begin a career where your work will be needed and valued. 

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