Working in the disability sector means helping to support a broad range of people of different ages, backgrounds and disabilities, across many different jobs.
There are many different jobs in a broad range of areas that support people with disability
Different people will require different levels of support
Jobs range from entry-level positions to specialist support
The people you are helping to support may only need a little help with only a few aspects of their life, or they may need more extensive support.
There are different types of jobs that can assist people with disability in day-to-day life, with accessing supports, getting around and being part of the community, or with medical needs.
Why a career in disability support?
Working in disability services means you get to make a difference in a person's life, supporting them to live as independently as possible. If you have a caring nature, enjoy working with people and are looking for a hands-on job where no day will be the same, then a job in disability services may be for you.
The many different roles ranging from entry level positions to specialist supports will require different levels of education and training. Depending on your goals and aspirations you may end up working as a disability support worker, develop more clinical skills to work as an enrolled or registered nurse or prefer to focus on getting people with disability the support they need in a support coordination role.
Below is an overview of different jobs in the disability sector. You can read more about the duties and responsibilities and required qualifications in the related articles.
Disability support worker/personal care worker
Disability support workers, also known as personal care workers, are some of the main front line supports for people with disability.
They will provide support to someone with disability in-home or in the community depending on the needs of the person being supported.
This could mean visiting someone in their home for a short period of time every day, providing more extensive 24/7 support or taking someone out into the community for errands such as shopping or appointments.
Disability support workers generally assist with basic daily tasks like cooking, cleaning or transport, or helping with personal hygiene.
They can also assist with helping someone spend time in the community and social inclusion with outings, social activities and recreation.
In Australia, you can work as a disability support worker without formal qualifications and receive informal training on the job. However, gaining qualifications before applying for work can assist with obtaining employment.
The role is normally entry-level and to find one you can search for jobs with titles like Disability Support Worker, Direct Care Worker, Lifestyle Support Worker or Personal Care Assistant.
Support coordinators are responsible for coordinating the different supports for people living with disability.
They are independent and can help with implementing a participant's National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan, for example because their plan is more complex and they require additional support or because they need help understanding what is involved in the planning and management of supports.
This may include helping participants understand their plan, explaining the NDIS processes, identifying service options, and managing their allocated individual budget.
Support coordination can also include things like addressing service or support delivery issues.
Case managers are primarily responsible for assisting and supporting people and patients with disabilities by making sure they get the most out of the services they access.
Case managers provide case management across a number of areas including health care, education and welfare and can either work through a service provider or in some cases independently.
For example, a case manager working in health care will work very closely with health providers, such as general practitioners, psychiatrists, psychologists and other specialists.
Case managers are responsible for reviewing each case and keeping up to date with any changes within the case.
Enrolled Nurses & Registered Nurses
Both an Enrolled Nurse (EN) and a Registered Nurse (RN) help support people with disability who have specific health care needs.
ENs and RNs provide care to people with disability living in Supported Accommodation, respite or other permanent accommodation options.
ENs provide basic nursing care under the supervision of an RN, while an RN is able to perform tasks with a bit more autonomy.
RNs are able to perform tasks like administering medication without the supervision of a doctor, and help with coordinating the care of patients, managing medication, and supervising the work of ENs and other health care workers.
Specialist support jobs provide people with disability with support in specific areas, meeting any additional needs that they may have.
The support provided by people in these jobs will generally depend on the specialisation and area of study.
Specialist roles can include things like speech pathologists, dieticians, or occupational therapists.
The study undertaken for these jobs is usually at the university level.
In these roles you could work for organisations that provide only disability support, community or mental health services, or for private practice, or a hospital.
What disability sector job would you want to work in? Tell us in the comments below or send an email to [email protected].