Employing support workers and the NDIS

Employing support workers and the NDIS

[Music Plays] so I’m gonna talk about Em. Em is a dancer and, her Mum, she wants to keep things really really simple but she’s also
really particular and Em is particular as well in that she wants the right
person to support her. They went through service and they went through
services and they just could not find the right people. They would find the right person
and then they would go off somewhere else or they weren’t available at the times. Em works
full-time – oh sorry she works part-time but her availability – she needs support
that’s around the time that she needs support not around.., which is often
after hours and one of the things that she wanted to support with was
attending a ballet class, getting there and back and end and just having you
know support in that ballet class. She’s not here…, she didn’t
want her photo up there. So it really, it really really was a reluctant thing initially
that that they’ve decided to…, it got to the point where her Mum’s just
gone “I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough. I
can’t find the right person we can’t find the right person, how do we do if differently?” And so we sort of sort of worked out how they could recruit a support
worker to work with Em, who shared her, you know, her passion. So rather than
looking for someone with a cert three disability studies we had to go looking
for a ballet dancer. So that that’s the right person to support her and someone
her age. Em is a young lady she’s in her twenties, she’s really vibrant and energetic and she just needed someone who
could provide that support that worked for her, that ideal match. In the
same way Dave and Belinda find support that are the ideal match for them.
So they just wanted to make the decisions but they didn’t want to have
to worry about making the payments and things like that and claiming back from
the agency, you know, so I think if Helen could have found the ideal service she
would have been, she would have been…, she would have sung their praises
from the rooftops but she just couldn’t. Everything just, it just wasn’t falling
into place for them. So as plan manager we helped them craft an add and
recruit some support workers, and more recently they’ve had…, Em is wanting to
learn to cook and she was getting some assistance from a service a while ago and
the person didn’t like cooking. So they’ve got someone who doesn’t like
cooking teaching Em to cook. They didn’t have good cooking skills either so
it’s really important that Em learns to cook in a way that’s, you know, that’s appropriate and using good knife skills and things like that so
it’s safe for her in the kitchen but instead she was learning to cook
from someone who didn’t know how to cook particularly well didn’t like cooking
and, you know, it was a bit of a failure. So she’s just recently recruited
somebody as well who can assist with her
preparing an evening meal for the family on a weekly basis. And yes, of course, so we assist them with the, with the paying of the support worker, the
insurances, the workers compensation insurance, the superannuation, the tax and
all those sort of things as well. We charge an additional
fee for payroll, so we charge five percent for helping people with their payroll,
but that’s just an example of how…, I mean there must be other organisations that
are able to do that as well. So is it…, Kathy what was it…, there was one mentioned
what was it? [Audience] Carer Solutions. Carer Solutions – that sounds like they are
able to do something very very similar as well. Yes, so you if you want to
recruit your own staff you can use service providers you can still use
service providers to provide the support you can engage a service provider in the
same way you can if you are plan managing or agency managing or you can go down
the track once again of individual contractors or directly employing a
support. A lot of people do come to Mind the Gap saying “I’ve had enough of services,
service providers, I want to directly employ.” It is probably about fifty-fifty but others
come to a saying I want to find the ideal service so…, so I suppose, you know, that
there’s a lot of people who are seeking to directly employ their support. They are
actually wanting that direct relationship. So if you’re directly
employing your support workers that you are the employer, even if you are plan
managing, you are the actual the employer and…, but in this situation you would be
managing the risk and, and insurance yourself. With self-managing you’re
accountable to the NDIS. I’m going to talk about my lovely friend
Cath Mahony who is one of the co-founders of Mind the Gap. Cath is blind and there she is
driving a golf buggy. Her analogy for self direction because she
can’t drive a golf buggy completely by herself she sort of might…, she is driving it but there is…, she has someone beside her saying “go
left, go right. The other left or the other right.” But it’s her way of
explaining, you know, the importance of being in control and being in the
driver’s seat of her support. So Cath…, so she, she…, recruits her own…, she’s got a
service provider who will allow her to recruit her own support workers. Sometimes
the service provider might…, it’s probably the most flexible one in Newcastle and it
seems amazing because I don’t think that it is, you know, particularly out there, but it’s
a, it’s a service provider who will bring the people they are supporting in on
interviews. So Cath is…, Cath is…, she uses a service provider who
will allow her to recruit her own support workers and who will let her be – ‘let’, you know, it should be this way
around all the time who has people they are supporting on the panel, interview
panel, when they recruit. And it’s a bit like they do they’re recruiting a bit
like speed dating where there’s a group of potential employees, support workers,
and a group of families and people disability who are wanting support workers
and they are kind of all sort of interact together in some kind of semi formal way
and sort of find where there might be a good match as far a support worker goes.
But Cath, she’s doing a lot of work with CDAH, that I mentioned there, she is
a coordinator of CDAH and she does a lot of presentations and a lot of
talking, and, you know, she’s, she’s very very busy. In her plan she has some funding to
assist her in her employment. Cath is not able to access print material at all.
Things like reading the mail can take a day, you know, to catch up on a week’s mail
and doing…, putting it through a scanner. So she really wanted some support to, to
particularly around accessing print material. Some of that around making…,
doing powerpoints for presentations because a lot of people are visual
learners. Cath calls doing powerpoint an extreme sport because
it’s quite difficult for her but to actually create the powerpoints and she needs assistance to do that. So she was looking for some work place assistance to
assist her in that and she found support workers who are lovely and good at doing
some other things that she needed support for. Good at assisting with the grocery
shopping but she couldn’t find that level of support that she needed for, for
her work and some of her, sort of, I suppose, personal business work. So she
decided what she needed was someone who had good secretarial skills. So she used
her NDIS funding to go to a temp agency and found secretarial support
there. That’s what she was looking for. She wasn’t looking for the skills of a
support worker even though it was supporting her with her disability.
Supporting her and where she has difficulty because of the disability. So
that was, I think, the most fabulous way of really, you know, finding
innovative solutions to her support needs and, and that’s worked out really
really well. I think she’s actually gone a bit – step further now where she is…, interestingly the temp agency, there
charge for a secretary was less than it is a support worker under the NDIS from the service. So, so it’s double win
and she’s also looking at engaging somebody who has their own ABN to provide that secretarial support.
So that’s just an example of how, how people can be really innovative. So Cath
self-managing her support. She’s got some good tips as well which I will cover a bit later, if we have a break now, on, on how to sort of negotiate
with service providers. Okay. Well Jacob and I do it. We self-direct. So as I said
self-direction means that one twelve of the funding is put into our bank account. A
special bank account for NDIS funding. It doesn’t get mixed in with the
other income or the grocery fund, the grocery bill account and things like that. It
doesn’t get paid on the mortgage or anything like that it’s on its own
NDIS account. We directly employ our support and we don’t have any service
providers involved at all, and in fact the therapists who Jacob uses are private as
well. And we have just, I suppose for a while we have used private therapists because
we just found that we were able to find therapists who could really see our
vision, Jacobs vision for himself, and our vision for Jacob. So we found that it
was really much easier, and then you have, you know, you have your own OT and
it’s not like you get sort of switched to another OT at another time. So, so we sort
of don’t have any…, I don’t think we’ve got any services involved in Jacob’s life. It’s not that
services don’t have a place but we’re just decided to go this way. We do get
more flexibility. So as Cathy was saying we employ support workers who are a good
match with Jacob. So I don’t know if anyone noticed Jacob was here with
Lauren today. She’s just this fantastic support worker. We bought her from Newcastle
to Melbourne with us and, and she’s sort of…, she and Jacob are out exploring Melbourne
at the moment and meeting up with the one of Jacob’s friends from Toastmasters.
So Lauren is about the same age as Jacob I think she’s about a year or so younger.
With…, Jacob has got a couple of support workers who are musicians so Jacob goes
to see bands with them. We have got really good, you know, all the supports are a really good
match. So we’ve got really great flexibility
and it matches to the assistance required, like you know, like Marissa as I
said – not Marissa, Em as I said – had a – she needed a dancer as support. Cath, you know, needed secretary support. So it’s really that…, finding that really good match for the support
the person needs. We can be much more creative and I think this gets
particularly interesting when you’re thinking about holidays, time away. We are
not, sort of, stuck with…, we can negotiate directly with support workers around payment and
things like that because there’s much much more scope for creativity and I
think one of the things about the NDIS is the creativity and the innovative
ways of finding support is going to come from you guys. The NDIS is not going to come up with “Hey I got an idea. How about this?” It’s got to come from the people who are using support
and really trying to think about the best ways of using it and the most cost
efficient ways of using support. We can tailor…, training is
tailored to Jacob so the support…, the training that support
workers do with Jacob firstly has to be around his communication because he
communicates using alternative augaumentative communication
and secondly we want support workers to undertake some values based training so
all of Jacob support workers undertake training in Social Role Valorisation. I
don’t know if anyone has heard of that or if anyone’s familiar, but really it’s
about just people understanding that Jacob’s vulnerabilities and the risk of
devaluation and actually countering that with socially valued roles. Its
relationship based support and there’s no divided loyalty. So, you know, if you are working with a support worker and they’re employed by an agency,
who are they loyal to, the agency or you? Or it is divided, you know, so I’ve heard
lots of, you know, support workers talk about, “I would like to do something but
the agency won’t let me.” So we have none of that it’s really just
a matter of negotiating directly with Jacob, myself, the support circle, family. [Audience] “Excuse me, just that sort of training, you know that social…?” Social Role Valorisation [Audience] “Yeah, where would you, sort of, source that?” Deb will have the answer to that question here. In Newcastle we usually…, It might involve travel to Sydney for our support workers. So it’s run…, there is a
course usually run once a year, maybe twice a year, in Sydney, but Deb will definitely
know the answer to that. So it really is, you know, training so that you support
workers understand where you’re coming from that we find is vital and we can
choose the training, you know, we don’t want support workers doing an
induction on, you know, what a service provider might provide. So it seems to me,
you know, a waste. We also provide training to our support
workers around particularly, you know, support for Jacob around doing transferring. Transferring from one place to another,
moving, mobility that sort of stuff. Now if you did it through the
service provider it will be ‘manual handling’ and it wouldn’t be tailored to Jacob. We can
actually tailor the support for the training to Jacob, which means; A) the training
is better and also the results of, you know…, so the support workers are able to do
the job better, but also it’s better for Jacob to. You get more bang for your buck
directly employing. Really no doubt about it. It is cost-effective. You can delegate
more tasks. I think the thing that I found amazing, because I told you I
love to delegate, is that, that by taking on self direction and directly employing
by taking on that additional responsibility I actually had more
freedom to delegate, and it seems like a…, you know,
counterintuitive, but it’s the way it is and I’ll explain how that happens in a
second. We were voting with their feet. I actually think that if the service
provider is still providing day programs and segregating people from the
community in the way that Deb described, how can they actually be supporting the vision
for Jacob simultaneously? How can they say, “Yes, Jacob Hughes, you belong in the
community”, but simultaneously saying, “This group of people doesn’t.” So we decided to
actually vote with our feet. And how it works is it starts with Jacob and our
vision for Jacob to be included in the community. So that is doing all the things
that Jacob is interested in. So there’s volunteer work, swimming, going to the
beach, Toastmasters, you know public speaking, socialising. So it starts with
Jacob and him being included in the community and I want to really emphasize
that is the starting point. Really, really importantly, Jacob’s support
workers – their role is to connect him to the community. Jacob needs a fair bit of support to do that
so we need people who got really lovely social skills and are very very good at
doing it. One of the funny things we found is that people with really really good social
skills are either hair dressers or work in bars. So you don’t need a cert three in disability studies. For us, our
thing that we’re looking for is bar work or hairdressing. Although we don’t advertise
for that because there might be other people with good skill sets as well.
The support coordinator is exceptionally social gifted and she does a lot of that
connection stuff. So you’re looking for volunteer roles and things like that.
She’ll be…, she’ll go out down to the Business Council in
Hamilton where we live and she will be talking to them about volunteer roles Jacob could have. She will be talking to others about volunteer roles and sourcing those. So
that’s part of her role as well and she, then, she also coordinates the support workers,
who there, get on with the work of connecting Jacob to the community. Where to start.
This is some advice from Catherine Mahony who I spoke about before,
who is self managing, and she just said, you know, really find time to find the
support of matches with you. She feels that whenever she’s a bit desperate she
finds support the doesn’t match. She’s like, “Oh, I need some…, I need support for this.”,
and then sort of goes with something that doesn’t match. And if you are talking to service providers or talking with people who are going to
providing support – making sure that they share your vision, you know, and keep
searching until you find your good match and know your deal-makers and
deal-breakers. So these are deal-breakers that Cath has:
Do they share your vision? What decisions? Be really clear when
you’re signing up with a service provider or with support workers, or
support coordinators. What decisions do you make? What decisions do they make?
Can you negotiate directly with the service…, with the support workers? That’s really important if you want to have a relationship based support. And making clear who is responsible for what. So when you make an agreement with the
service provider really, really articulating who is responsible for what,
and having it written down in your agreement. And what do we do when we disagree
with the people that you’re working with. So having, sort of, some strategies around that. [Music plays]

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