Choice and control is the cornerstone the NDIS is built on.
It is the very heart of the social reform that is freeing people with disability from the one-size-fits-all approach of the old welfare model. No longer is disability support built around the needs of organisations and the system, rather than people with disability.
Choice and control under the NDIS promises people across the nation the opportunity to steer their life in the direction they want; promising the opportunity to engage in the services and supports that they value and feel are right for them. For some people with disability, this may even mean independently employing their own support workers, resulting in less bureaucracy and red tape in their lives. Choice and control is so valued by the NDIS that is has even backed it with funding for capacity building to ensure that participants are equipped to make their own decisions.
However, the red tape looks like it is on its way back in Victoria.
The state government are in the process of establishing an independent, legislated registration and accreditation scheme for Victoria’s disability workforce. They believe this scheme will complement the new national Quality and Safeguarding Framework, protecting vulnerable people from harm and supporting the development and growth of a quality disability workforce, by ensuring workers who care for people with disability have the right skills, experience and qualifications.
In theory, this sounds great. However, what it is in fact doing is putting the bureaucracy and red tape back in the lives of people with disability. It undermines the choice and control intended by the NDIS and impacts the ability of workers in Victoria to support their clients.
What happened to dignity of risk?
People with disability should have the opportunity to determine their own best interest. Making mistakes and learning from them is one of the very things that makes us human. Any restrictions on choice and control should be minimal and evidence-based, not sweeping decisions made across the board.
Evidence suggests that when individuals have greater choice and control over their services, they are more likely to have better outcomes and to make more efficient and effective use of the funding.
People with disability are quite often best placed to make decisions about who is right to support them and on the quality and suitability of their team. Yet the Victorian government wants to make it more difficult for them to do so. In fact what it will be doing is forcing support workers to register with a government body on a yearly basis, most likely for a yearly fee, just like nurses. If the support worker does not hold the mandated qualification they will not be able to register, meaning they will not be able to legally work, even if they have supported the same client for years.
Everyone acknowledges the value of training.
While some participants will seek the reassurance of a qualification from their staff, surely we must acknowledge that there are other valid training mechanisms available if support workers choose to go down a different route. Is a person with 5 years experience supporting someone with high level needs less qualified than someone who has just received their Certificate III? Under this new government scheme, the person with disability would not have the option to hire the person with years of experience because they do not have a qualification.
Mandating a specific qualification is not going to improve the quality of the workforce. As a manager in the disability sector for a number of years, I can not tell you how many job applicants I have interviewed with the desired qualifications, but who struggled to answer simple questions about providing person-centred or quality support. Just because a person has the qualification does not mean they are the right person for the job. Attitude, empathy and willingness to learn are much more valuable.
As a Disability eLearning provider we feel strongly about this!
At Empowability, we are confident that our eLearning courses will consolidate and enhance the skills of support workers, whether they have a qualification or not. By encouraging critical thinking and writing our courses from a best practice perspective, our learners gain a better understanding of person-centred support. We have adapted the industry standard shadow-shift to be more outcomes focused. We provide learners with structured shadow shift guides to ensure the right questions and topics are covered during the shadow shift. Our modules are aligned with the Certificate III in Individualised Support, ensuring that what we deliver is relevant industry refresher training. Our courses deliver content in mobile bite-sized modules, with information easy to access, where and when needed.
Importantly, we have priced our catalogue so that individuals, whether they be support workers or the person with disability, can afford to access them, ensuring they have up-to-date info at their fingertips. We believe that people with disability should have the choice and control to decide who they want to employ and how they want to train them.