The Duties of a Support Worker

The Duties of a Support Worker

In Australia, support workers play a vital role in assisting individuals who require extra support due to circumstances such as age or disability, among many other reasons. These dedicated professionals provide practical assistance, emotional support, and advocacy to help people facing daily challenges lead more fulfilling lives and participate actively in their communities. Far from merely offering aid, support workers empower individuals to navigate life’s challenges with dignity and autonomy.

Becoming a support worker and helping people in need is a gratifying career. Helping others helps yourself, it’s good for the soul. But before considering any new career, one must be fully informed about what goes into the job, and for support work that means understanding the responsibilities you’ll be taking on if you’re successful. It’s the kind of career that is rewarding either way, but the challenges can be great, you should still know what you’re getting into first to make a fully informed decision.

Diverse friends with physical disability having fun outdoor at city park

The Different Types of Support Workers

Support work is something of a catch-all term for many job roles, each with vastly differing duties and responsibilities. A few quick examples include:

  • Disability support worker

  • Aged caregiver

  • Child and youth support

  • Community services worker

  • Mental health care

  • Family care and support

There are many other examples, those listed above are simply scratching the surface. But just taking a glance at these is enough to demonstrate how incredibly different each kind of support work can be. But for a deeper example, consider how a youth support worker role might require practitioners to assist disadvantaged children with schoolwork, something none of the other listed examples would necessarily need to do.

To become any kind of support worker, those interested in this line of work must first earn a relevant qualification. There are several kinds of qualifications, and which one you’ll need, where you’ll need to go to get it, and how long it’ll take you to earn all depend on which support worker path you intend to pursue. One of the broadest qualifications is a Certificate III in Individual Support.

Certificate III in Individual Support

A Certificate III in Individual Support is a nationally recognised qualification that equips individuals with the skills and knowledge to begin a career as a support worker across a broad spectrum of possible fields. It offers foundational training in areas such as communication, safety procedures, legal and ethical considerations, and understanding the needs of diverse clients.

This certification opens doors to a diverse range of support roles. In short, it is a great starting point for someone wanting to pursue any of the support worker careers listed above, among many other possibilities.

A Certificate III in Individual Support comes with two elective streams for students to specialise in. These are aged care and disability support. While at first glance, it may be confusing why either of these could be useful if you’re looking at one of the other support career options. This is because a Certificate III is an entry-level qualification.

Skills Training College’s Certificate III in Individual Support course requires no academic or work experience prerequisites to enrol. On top of that, the skills and knowledge taught by our experienced and dedicated trainers form the foundation of what goes into support work, meaning what you’ll learn in this course is directly transferable to other forms of support work. Students interested in other lines of support work are free to select and pursue whichever elective stream they feel best suits their goals (and many decide to study both). After completing this course, many pursue further studies such as a Certificate IV, and other formal qualifications through university studies.

Aged Care and Disability Support

Given that aged care and disability support are the two entry-level streams of study for a Certificate III in Individual Support, these are also the two careers that we’ll be examining the closest. After all, the duties in these two careers comprise the basis of the duties across support work as a whole.

Aged care work and disability support workers are both careers in which workers provide personalised assistance and care to individuals with specific needs or limitations, while promoting independence and improving the quality of life for those they support. They also have a variety of pathways that newcomers to the industry have to pick. Often, newcomers aim to support a loved one in need from the comfort of their home, such as a family member. Others will work from an external location, such as a hospital or residential facility, on behalf of an organisation.

While studying a Certificate III in Individual Support, you’ll learn more than just the duties required of a support worker and how to perform them. You’ll also learn your responsibilities, the legislation and the legal frameworks behind your new career, and you’ll also develop the emotional tools you need to do your very best. Compassion, empathy, and dedication toward helping others are the most essential life skills and tools a support worker can learn.

A woman with a prosthetic hand cuts vegetables.

Support Worker Duties

With so many kinds of support workers, even looking at just aged care and disability support, it may still seem unlikely that they could share so much in common despite involving such different clients. However, at the end of the day, all support workers share several traits in common and these are apparent in their shared duties. Following are the tasks that make a support worker a support worker.

Personal Care:

  • Assisting clients with personal hygiene, such as through physical assistance with bathing, showering, using the bathroom, and grooming.

  • Physical support with dressing and undressing.

Mobility Support:

  • Helping clients use mobility aids such as wheelchairs, walkers, or canes.

  • Assisting with transfers, such as moving them from bed to chair or vice versa. This also involves helping clients get in and out of vehicles.

  • Supporting clients with exercises or movements prescribed by physiotherapists.

Household Tasks:

  • Performing light housekeeping duties such as tidying, vacuuming, and dusting.

  • Assisting with laundry.

  • Meal preparation, including planning menus, cooking, and serving meals.

Medication Management:

Health Monitoring:

  • Monitoring vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and breathing.

  • Observing for any signs of discomfort, illness, or changes in client’s overall condition.

  • Reporting concerns regarding clients’ health status to healthcare professionals.

Social and Emotional Support:

  • Providing emotional support and companionship to clients through meaningful conversations and activities using their communication skills.

  • Provide emotional support by listening to clients’ concerns and offering empathy, reassurance, advice, and counselling.

Assistance with Community Engagement:

  • Attending appointments, social events, or recreational activities with clients.

  • Assisting with transportation arrangements or accompanying clients on outings.

  • Facilitating your clients’ access to community resources and services.

Documentation and Reporting:

  • Documenting any incidents, accidents, or changes in client status.

  • Maintaining confidentiality of client information and adhering to data protection regulations.

Team Collaboration:

  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, therapists, and social workers, to ensure coordinated care.

Professional Development:

  • Participating in training sessions and workshops to enhance your knowledge and skills.

  • Keeping up-to-date with best practices and regulations for client support.

Emergency Response:

  • Responding calmly and effectively to emergencies, such as falls, seizures, or medical crises, through basic first aid practices.

Client Advocacy:

  • Advocating for the rights and preferences of your clients.

  • Ensuring that clients are treated with dignity, respect, and autonomy.

  • Using good listening skills to address any concerns or complaints raised by clients or their families in a timely and compassionate manner.

A blind man reads something in Braile with his hands.

A Rewarding Career Begins Here

As can be seen, the tasks performed by a support worker are essential to enriching the lives of their clients. Helping those in need and supporting them in their day-to-day lives, while allowing them to remain in control of their choices, are all signs of someone passionate about helping other people for a living.

The way to begin such a career is through a Certificate III in Individual Support with Skills Training College. You won’t just learn what the duties of a support worker are and how to perform them, you’ll come to understand just why exactly each one matters. Supporting your clients the right way starts right here.