Some support workers won’t fit Disability Sector revamp

With the disability sector set to undergo its biggest revamp in years, changes to attitude and personal approach to disability supports need to be looked at.

(Photo credit: Newstatesman via Google Images) 

Enabling Good Lives launches in the Waikato this week.

With the freedom and choice many of its services promise to offer, perhaps what Enabling Good Lives also has the power to achieve is to change a common but not-so-discussed attitude in residential services and in the home.

A one fits all direction approach is not uncommon in many residential services throughout the country.

There are support workers in the industry who forget their actual role.

That role, is to support the client to do the things they need help with.

The role is not to create a hierarchy, opinion-based pecking order in a service that is not their personal home where they call the day-to-day shots.

The residential service is a place where the support worker comes to work, not control the client or have things done their way.

This is a common area of concern for many residential services, and certain tired old attitudes of dictatorship will need to change in some support workers.

Moving forward, the client will be in control of their lives further, and support workers shouldn’t be allowed to try and have a say in any of this, regardless of their experience in the sector.

In residential services; individual staff members are relied on by the people they support, and it is a greater reliance than most outsiders realise.

At their most influential, a support worker can dictate a disabled person to have a good day, or an incredibly frustrating and unfair day, depending on the attitude and actions of that particular staff member on the day.

Many support workers in the industry are guilty of forgetting about basic human rights, and it is surprising the number of support workers who knowingly break these important barriers between personal opinion and professionalism.

Human rights is a big focus of the training process that many service providers teach new staff, it should always be one the first things taught in training.

It isn’t always the case of the support worker being negligent either, sometimes it is just an opinion, and the thing that a lot of disabled people forget is that support workers are human too, but this is perceived by some support workers to be taken for granted, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Clients continue to strive for individuality, where support needs are tailored to them, not the viewpoint of the worker and how they feel it should be done.

Residential services run on a business model, and up until now clients have been assessed based on health and requirement needs rather than the personal and lifestyle.

The latter does come into the equation, but money has to be made, and the more clients that come into a service, the more revenue the provider is likely to make.

Cost cutting is hitting the disability sector hard, and transport could be one major issue that schemes like Enabling Good Lives can help to solve.

It remains to be seen if service providers will allow clients to use social development funding for things like transport while remaining under the health funding from the ministry for things like health and personal care, food and power.

What service providers need to seriously think about is how to best approach the Enabling Good Lives model so it can suit everyone, because not every client of batch of clients in one particular service have the same lifestyle plans and community-based goals.

Enabling Good Lives will pull all the three major funding streams (health, social development, and education) into one main funding bracket.

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