Issue 1: How do we show commitment to building trust between people with a disability, families, workers and organisations?
Showing commitment to building trust is about understanding our roles and responsibilities in ensuring people with disability are properly supported. That goes for everyone – the person receiving support, their family, their workers and the service providers they choose. At Hireup, this starts with the values that underline our work. We are committed to building tools to equip people, not services to manage them. We are helping people understand their own agency and rights as an autonomous, empowered consumer. We’re here to build the capacity of people with disability so that they, if they want, are able to manage their own supports, instead of having to accept support on someone else’s terms.
Fundamental to this is Hireup’s employment model. We employ our support workers as casual employees to afford them the benefits they deserve and bear responsibility for them on behalf of the people with disability in our community; we set up co-employment relationships with people with disability and their families in which we take care of the administrative backend while they interview new support workers, build their own support teams and manage their own day-to-day schedule; and we empower people with disability, their families and their workers with information.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. We do this through our online support plan which includes workplace assessments, resources for navigating self-management and a Community Support team that’s on-call to answer any questions. This lets people feel in control, comfortable and understood, so that they’re then able to do their part in building trusting relationships.
Issue 2: What avenues are there for disclosing issues safely and confidentially if things go wrong between individuals and their workers?
There are two things that underpin Hireup’s approach to this issue – one, we are responsible as the employer of our workers, and two, we will always be committed to providing accessible and proactive support for our community. After every shift, we routinely ask our users to provide feedback, whether that’s on the support work relationship, the shift itself or any incidents that have occurred; we conduct random spot checks of our users to see how they’re going; and we have an online incident report form that is easily accessible from the Hireup dashboard. We have an immediate response policy on these reports and work closely with our users to swiftly and discretely address any issues.
But this is just the start, and not all issues are incidents. How do you help someone through a personal crisis? How do you start a tricky conversation? What if you feel like you’re in over your head? People need to be supported through these kinds of issues too. And we can do that with more resources and guides, but we can also do it as a community. Hireup is building a connected network for people to find the support they need but the network doesn’t have to be about just connecting people with disability and support workers. It could also connect peers – families with families, workers with workers – and as we grow, we want this to be part of our community culture. It will take much longer to build than functions on a web platform but we think it’s a good goal to set our sights on.
Issue 3: Who is responsible for offering professional development to individuals, their families or their workers as we navigate this new NDIS world?
There are two types of learning that need to be unpacked in this question. One is the obvious need for training for support workers and the second is learning opportunities for people with disability and carers who are new to self-management.
Firstly, for our workers, as their legal employer, Hireup is absolutely responsible for providing them training and professional development opportunities. We recently launched the Hireup Academy which includes induction material, essential training modules and continuing professional development opportunities. The Hireup Academy is still in its early days as we pilot with a handful of our workers but we’re really looking forward to sharing it with the rest of the community soon. But this is just laying the foundation.
It’s important that worker training is also directed, informed and provided by the person seeking support. We strongly encourage our users to provide on-the-job training and are here to support them in this. Training is most effective when we work in partnership with both people seeking support and their support workers.
Finally, we’re in the process of developing partnerships with state-based organisations to give our workers access to the best accredited and non-accredited training across the sector. It’s important we also recognise the need to help people with disability and their families learn how to navigate Australia’s new disability landscape. We provide online resources to help guide our users navigate their support work relationships and our Community Support team is on call to help users connect, understand their role and work through any challenges.
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