The Shadow Shift has been a mainstay in the disability sector for as long as I can remember.

They are an unpaid training shift where the new staff member works with the client and an experienced staff member to learn the client’s personal care routines. Depending on the level of interaction from the client and the training partner they can be a bit hit and miss. In this article, I will explain why an Empowability Shadow Shift is a bit different.

With the introduction of the NDIS comes a whole new world in regards to choice and control in the life of a person with disability and their support networks.
Not only can people exercise this choice and control by independently employing their staff but they are also expecting their supporting agencies to listen to their needs and desires and deliver on their requests. In the old one size fits all pre-NDIS world this didn’t always happen.

Being a member of a number of Facebook groups for NDIS providers, disability advocates and people with disabilities I have noticed many people posting about the level of training their staff currently have and how they can get them trained up?

One group member recently asked whether someone employed with a certificate IV in Disability should know how to do safe manual handling…and the responses were basically no!

A certificate IV is the certificate that a support worker obtains to move into a middle management role like a Team Leader or Supervisor. The course covers topics that equip the learner to develop skills and knowledge to advocate for and empower people with disabilities and enhance their ability to achieve greater levels of independence, self-reliance and community participation. It also equips the learner with the management skills to supervise other employees and create frameworks for an efficient workplace.

Basically, if a person comes into the disability sector and has no previous training in the field, they will NOT obtain the skills to perform personal care or other support tasks by doing a Cert IV alone. The training for these personal care type activities comes from the Certificate III in Disability, Aged Care or Individual Support.

However, there is another option available.

Empowability specialises in eLearning for the support worker. We provide quality eLearning modules specifically written for the disability sector that are a mobile-ready, cost-effective way of ensuring all support staff, whether employed directly by the client or through an agency, are up to scratch with the topics they need to provide quality support.

Because Empowability is eLearning, you don’t need to be close to the city or a service provider to access the training; you only need a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop with internet access to engage in our courses. We also have discussion forums and Facebook groups so that learners can ask questions and receive ongoing support and encouragement from their colleagues and peers.

We understand the disability sector and the way traditional training in the sector works.

Some tasks that are necessary to support people require practical hands-on training as well as theory based learning, and we have come up with the Empowability Shadow Shift as a way of delivering this hands-on training in a way that includes the client.
Shadow Shifts are common in the sector when new staff go onto a new client’s program. Usually, this shadow shift takes place with a long-term support worker that the client trusts or a family member doing the tasks and the new support worker watching and joining in when required. The support worker may need a couple of these shifts to get up to scratch.

An Empowability Shadow Shift is a little more structured. We provide a reference guide that covers topics for discussion, and the tasks that should be carried out on the shift. We also suggest some questions that the new worker might consider asking the client or training partner to make sure they are getting the most out of the Shadow Shift. This reference guide is the perfect tool to ensure everyone involved in the shift feels valued and heard and allows the support worker to feel safe in asking questions.

If you would like to know more about how Empowability Shadow Shifts work, please call Empowability on (o3) 5968 2379 or email

Jenine Ellis

Author Jenine Ellis

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