A disability support worker provides care and support to a person with disability. They can help with daily chores and activities, transport, treatment programs, feeding, hygiene and participating in the community. They can work with people in their homes, residential facilities, community centres and hospitals.
How are disability support workers funded?
Disability support workers are generally funded through an NDIS plan.
What can a disability support worker do?
A disability support worker may be able to assist you with things such as:
- providing in-home support for daily tasks such as showering, dressing, eating and taking medications
- going out in the community, such as going to the shops, university or TAFE, medical appointments, sporting events or concerts
- catching up with friends
- studying or employment
- household activities such as preparing meals, washing, ironing and other tasks.
There are three ways to engage a disability support worker. These are:
- By using an NDIS registered service provider
- Engaging a disability support worker as an employee
- Engaging a disability support worker as an independent contractor
There are different responsibilities for the person engaging the disability support worker depending on the way in which they are engaged.
Using an NDIS registered service provider
You can choose to have an NDIS registered service provider employ your disability support workers. Advise the service provider when, where and how you want your support to be provided. You should also have a say in who is providing the support. You may want to be involved in interviews for disability support workers who will be providing your support.
The NDIA recommends having a written service agreement so participants and service providers are clear about what each party has agreed to. The service agreement should contain:
- your responsibilities and those of the service provider
- contact details for the service provider
- what support will be provided
- the cost per hour
- the total cost of the supports for the period you have requested their service
- how to handle any issues if things aren’t going the way you want
- the service providers cancellation policy
- how to end the service agreement and any notice periods required.
Engaging a disability support worker as an employee or contractor
You can also directly engage a disability support worker yourself, either as an employee or a contractor. You need to decide how you want to engage them as there are different tax, super and other obligations that you might need to meet, depending on whether the support worker is a contractor or employee. There are also penalties and charges that may apply if you get it wrong so check with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) before deciding the best option for you. For more information see the ATO website or phone the ATO on 13 28 61. There is also an employee/contractor decision tool on the ATO website that you can complete to assist in determining if your worker is an employee or a contractor.
Engaging a disability support worker directly may also bring other obligations you need to consider, including superannuation, insurance (including public liability, motor vehicle insurance, home and contents insurance) and workers compensation. You might also have an obligation to provide training and a safe working environment for your support workers, ensure you are meeting industry pay rates and be responsible for criminal history and working with vulnerable people checks for new workers.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme has a resource called Directly engaging your own staff that outlines the different things you may need to consider.
If you have an NDIS plan you can use the Provider Finder in the MyPlace participant portal where you are able to search and filter the provider lists.
- A guide to engaging my own support workers, MyPlace Western Australia
If you have an NDIS plan with funding for a disability support worker this guide can assist you to decide which way of engaging your workers will work best for you. See Attachments 9 and 10 at the end of the resource. If you decide to employ your support workers yourself then you can follow the steps in this booklet. Even if you choose to have a service provider employ your support workers, you may find the material in this resource useful.
- Resources for self-direction, Pearl by Staffing Options
Pearl has resources and information for people who are self-directing their disability support funding in Queensland. The website was developed by Staffing OptionS and many of the resources on Pearl are relevant to, and consistent with, National Disability Insurance Scheme operational guidelines.
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