There are hundreds of thousands of Australian support workers out there, with different ages, skills, experiences and personalities. Some of them may help you achieve your personal goals and live to the fullest, while others may never call you back. So how can you tell which support workers are the right fit for you?
To help narrow your list, here are the top 9 things to consider when finding the perfect support worker for yourself or a loved one.
1. Training and experience
You'll find support workers vary widely in terms of qualifications and experience. Some support workers may be studying to become a social worker and want to get on-the-job experience. Some may have worked in teaching for 20 years and are looking for a career change. Some may be completely new to the profession!
Consider what level of care you require before you begin your search. If you just need a hand with grocery shopping, you may not require a support worker with specific qualifications. If you have complex needs, you may prefer someone who has experience with specific disabilities or conditions.
At Like Family, we require all our Social Carers to undergo certain training and provide certain documentation before they join our platform. For example, those who want to support NDIS participants must have a valid NDIS Worker Screening Check. This is an assessment of whether someone who works with people with disability poses a risk to them, and is mandatory for certain workers who deliver support or services under the NDIS.
2. Communication skills
Yes, being a good communicator is important for many professions. But it's particularly important for support workers. They need to listen to and understand your specific needs, and communicate in a clear and timely manner.
When you reach out to a support worker for the first time, pay attention to how and when they respond — do they reply within minutes, or days? Are their sentences short and clear, or long and confusing? Do they seem enthusiastic about working with you, or uninterested? When it comes to the perfect support worker, first impressions matter!
Sometimes, things change! It's important that your support worker can adapt to your changing needs. Pay attention to a support worker's availability — can they work on all the days and times you need support? Are they open to doing extra work during the school holidays?
If flexibility is your top priority, consider looking for multiple support workers (through platforms like Like Family) so you always have a back up in case your regular support worker is sick or on holidays.
4. Problem-Solving skills
Problem-solving is not just about dealing with issues when they arise—it's also about identifying and mitigating risks. Find a support worker who listens to your concerns and take them seriously.
For example, an autism support worker may avoid loud and busy environments if they know that might make their client feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
If you have a Meet and Greet session with a support worker, ask how they would respond to common scenarios.
Are you looking for ongoing support? Find a support worker who can be 100% relied upon before you commit to regular bookings.
A reliable support worker should work with your lifestyle and routines, be punctual and trustworthy, and always reply to your messages in a timely fashion. Your expectations are important, and a reliable support worker will ensure they are met!
6. Positive attitude
A support worker should help you gain independence, learn new things, and (most importantly) have fun!
Find a support worker who is passionate about what they do, and is driven to help you succeed, no matter what your goals are. You can tell if a support worker has a positive attitude by the content of their profile and the tone they use in messages and phone calls.
You may have personal goals that you want to achieve throughout the year. Whether it is learning a new skill or gaining more independence, a good support worker can help with organisation and milestones. It is important they understand their role and can organise activities to cater to your needs.
A support worker may feel like family, but they should also be professional. Find a support worker who approaches every task in a polite and respectful way, and adhere to clear boundaries. That means dressing appropriately, keeping their car clean, turning up for work on time, and sticking to approved communication channels.
They shouldn't do things like give a goodbye hug or take photos without your consent.
9. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise emotions of oneself and others and manage them accordingly. Look for support workers who are empathic and have active listening skills. They should be able to tell when you're feeling stressed or scared and take action straight away!
Find the perfect support worker today
Now that you know what to look for in a support worker, it's time to find one!
Like Family can help you connect with a Social Carer (social support worker) who matches your location, needs and interests. We have a Social Carer search page that allows you to filter workers based on age, location, experience and even interests. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up below!