Disability can occur in a variety of forms. Some disabled individuals care for themselves; others need assistance with daily tasks. Disability support workers care for clients who cannot function alone. By providing support and encouraging their clients' personal development, disability support workers also seek to empower clients to live as independently as possible. From handling a client's personal hygiene to compiling paperwork, disability support workers help disabled people live with dignity (see Reference 1).
Disability support workers are responsible for the client's personal care and hygiene, which may include providing assistance with getting dressed and taking baths. They administer food and medication and assist with mobility, which sometimes requires physically handling the client. From seating the client in a wheelchair to repositioning a bed-ridden client's limbs, disability support workers perform physical tasks that require strength and stamina. They also help clients with household tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and updating clients' clothing and possessions. Disability support workers maintain a safe and respectful environment when interacting with clients, creating an environment of dignity (see Reference 1, pages 1 and 3).
Client Social Development
Disability support workers help clients to develop their social skills by encouraging their involvement in a community. A community may be a disability support group, family gathering or group of friends. Support workers are responsible for transporting the client to and from the gathering place. By facilitating the client's integration with friends and family, disability support workers emphasise the importance of meaningful relationships between community members (see Reference 1, page 2).
The daily responsibilities of a disability support worker are often strenuous, requiring a physically fit worker. A support worker may spend an entire shift standing, walking or sitting. Assisting disabled clients sometimes requires repetitive tasks, such as lifting, pushing and pulling clients who rely on wheelchairs, or bending and stretching while completing housework. Support workers may also need to physically move the client, which, depending on the client's weight, can require strength and stamina. Some clients need to be lifted out of bed or a wheelchair; while others can perform these duties themselves but need help with other tasks, such as grocery shopping or laundry. Disability support workers perform the physical labour associated with caring for disabled clients (see Reference 1, page 4).
Disability support workers must keep track of events and appointments with clients in a log book, including all outcomes and cases of non-compliance. Other administrative duties include recording, filing and monitoring all correspondence with colleagues, team leaders and support coordinators. Disability support workers should also seek guidance, direction and support from colleagues (see Reference 3, page 2).