how to become a disability support worker

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? You live with passion and gain satisfaction from helping those in need. Do you enjoy working with people and enjoy taking on a caring role? Then, becoming a disability support worker may be the perfect opportunity for you.

You spend your days assisting your patients in different ways according to their needs. Some people might need help with transportation, daily chores around the house, or going to activities.  Others may need help with personal hygiene, eating and drinking, or even taking their medication. You are not just focused on their physical needs, although this does play a part. You also concern yourself with the emotional well being of your patients. To help introduce improvements into their lives you may arrange or encourage them to take part in activities. Visiting your patients in different environments you could see them at home, at the hospital or in care homes. 

You are a social person with compassion for others. Would you like to make a difference to others in your lifetime? If so then keep reading to find out how to make your dream job as a disability support worker a reality. 

Step one: Take a course to help you prepare for your role

Qualifications are not a requirement to find work as a disability support worker. Often your employer will provide training. But, there are relevant online course’s available which will help you to better prepare for work in the field. In fact, this is a sector where inexperience and lack of knowledge can have a negative impact on your patient. Doing training before getting started offers considerable benefits, and will give you an edge when you begin to look for work.

Step two: Look for a job as a disability support worker

Once you have some training under your belt then you can begin to look for work. You will need to pass a working with children, and working with vulnerable people check as a part of your application. You can tailor your resume to reflect the course you have taken, any relevant experience you might have and your personal strengths. Disability support workers are in very high demand. Forecasts predict job opportunities will only continue to grow.

Step three: Gain experience

In your chosen field you will find your experience is invaluable. Spend some time perfecting your skills. Pay particular attention to your people and listening skills. As you gain experience you will find lots of opportunities to progress your career. You may take on more responsibility, or many support workers will go on to complete nurse training.

Step four: Consider a specialisation

After you have built up your experience you can consider taking a new direction and to specialise. 

Attendant care worker

As an attendant care worker, your focus narrows to give personal assistance to your patients. You help them with basic tasks they cannot do themselves. For example, helping with eating, mobility, personal hygiene and planning activities. You may work in the home of your patients, or you may work in a care home environment

Home care worker

If you are not keen on working in the commercial environment of a hospital or care home, you may prefer a role as a home care worker. In this case, you specifically work at the homes of your patients. The reasons they need help can vary greatly. They may have physical problems, intellectual disabilities, they could be elderly, or they may have sustained an injury. For many patients, you will make the difference between them being able to live at home, or having to go into a care home. So you are offering an invaluable service to your community.

Disability services instructor

As a disability service instructor, you take a step back from involvement with the practical tasks. Rather, you will be the one you assess your client and devise a plan to help them meet their needs. You then monitor and update their care plan when needed. You will need strong people skills as you communicate with their other care practitioners, their nurse, and family members. Your experience will be particularity important when progressing to this role.

Disability support worker duties

Your role as a healthcare support worker is incredibly varied, and every day will be different. You may work from a clinic, a hospital, or visiting people at home. The needs of your patients will vary considerably. Primarily you will assist with practical tasks such as medication, eating, drinking, chores, personal hygiene. As a crucial subtext to those practicalities. You support your patients emotionally, communicate with family, and create care plans to bring about improvements to their lives. People can find the work is tiring emotionally because spend the whole day in communication. 


  • Assisting patients with self-care, eating, drinking or taking medication – individual needs vary considerably
  • Planning activities to help enrich your patient’s lives
  • Facilitating mobility, helping with transport
  • Writing care plans and a daily itinerary.

Skills for success

Firstly and foremost, you should have a passion to help the people you will be working with. Whatever you do if you’re genuine the other things will fall into place. You will need to approach people in a positive way, with understanding, and consideration. You also need to bear in mind the dignity of the people you work with, and you should not try to undermine them with your actions. As a disability support worker, you take responsibility for your patients so you also need to bear in mind health and safety when you are working with your patients. Lastly, because you are working with vulnerable people it is important to be trustworthy.

Skills and attributes

  • Top notch listening skills
  • Positive, patient, and persistent
  • Strong physically
  • Able to develop good personal relationships with people
  • Can use your initiative
  • Trustworthy

What do disability support workers earn in Australia?

In Australia, disability support workers earn a median wage of $51,035 per year. This varies according to a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18.

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