Professional supervision for disability support workers is an important part of the role of all support workers in Australia. This is particularly true for those who provide their services as part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
As tens of thousands of support workers are now working independently, and similarly, as so many employed support workers are geographically separated from their organisations, the importance of professional supervision only skyrockets!
Whether you're an independent sole trader or an employee, professional supervision helps you hone and improve your craft, and care for yourself.
That's why professional practice and supervision are critical for any disability support worker who is genuinely serious about building a high-quality solo provider service and/or long-term career. So grab a coffee and learn more!
What is Professional Supervision for Support Workers?
Professional supervision for NDIS support workers is the structured process of receiving guidance, feedback, insights, and support from a more experienced professional and industry practitioner. It helps you to improve the quality of your services, so you can better meet the needs of NDIS clients, and your practice.
It is essential for ongoing development, support, and accountability in the life and role of a disability support worker, as well as for the provision of safegaurded and high-quality services to NDIS clients with disabilities.
In short, it offers disability support workers the opportunity to critically reflect on their work, to problem solve, and to develop valuable skills and knowledge to improve their professional practice and competence - not to mention developing their own well-being, self-confidence, and personal resilience.
During group or individual sessions of professional supervision for disability support workers, common topics and areas covered might include things like:
- appropriate responses to unique scenarios
- effective communication with clients and stakeholders
- how to work effectively to achieve client goals
- ethical boundaries and potential ethical dilemmas
- career planning and professional development
- the NDIS Code of Conduct and regulatory information
- roles, responsibilities, and expectations in support relationships
- personal stress management, self-care, and well-being
- managing your own health and safety needs
In reality, there's an endless list of topics that assist support workers with their professional development, and hence, might be covered in professional supervision sessions. It will often be highly personalised to individual needs.
Supervision must be regular and frequent and must include opportunities for the worker to reflect on their practice, discuss any concerns or issues, and receive feedback on their performance. The supervisor should also provide guidance on how to improve practice and promote the worker's professional development.
What does the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission say about professional supervision for disability support workers?
According to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (QSC) "all NDIS providers, including independent support workers, must have professional supervision in place" (NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, 2020).
Naturally, in the eyes of the QSC, supervision is all about evolving and growing the development of a worker's professional knowledge, skills, and practice, as well as ensuring workers are meeting the NDIS Code of Conduct and Practice Standards.
It's about helping the implementation of evidence-based practices and providing services that are safe, effective, and responsive to clients' needs. Australia has a huge demand for NDIS support workers, and the need for professional supervision is an ingredient in the recipe of creating a highly-competent and safe workforce.
The NDIS QSC also states that professional supervision should be provided by an experienced and qualified supervisor who is not the worker's direct line manager.
In the case of independent support workers that often means using a third-party industry service or finding an experienced industry practitioner offering services.
What about privacy and confidentiality?
Great question. For disability support workers engaging in professional supervision, an important topic is a privacy and confidentiality - also known as the trust and freedom to discuss difficult topics and/or ethical dilemmas.
Of course, scenarios may arise where privacy and confidentiality have limits. This includes situations where there are serious legal or ethical challenges or the risk of harm to self or another person. In certain situations, safety will trump privacy.
When starting professional supervision, openly discuss privacy and confidentiality, and get an understanding of any limits to these with your chosen supervisor.
How do supervision sessions occur?
With our beautiful modern world and the reality that many independent support workers and employee workers are geographically separated, technology tools are popular in helping to facilitate professional supervision for support workers.
You might find that sessions are available by:
- Video Calls (Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp Video)
- Phone Calls
- Online Chats and Text Messaging Services
- Emails (with written opportunities for Q&A)
If possible, find a way to nurture the relationship with your supervisor through either in-person sessions, to begin with or video calls. There's nothing quite like eye contact and a human touch, to create an environment of trust - which matters.
Many video call services, like Google Meet, are free also.
Normally, the person providing professional supervision can provide a link.
You may also find in-person individual or group sessions available in your region. If they are local enough to you, it's worth the quick trip for that in-person experience!
Let us know what you find. We'll update this guide with links in the future.
Looking for Professional Supervision?
There are several organizations that offer supervision services for disability support workers including independent support workers. Some examples include:
- The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW):
- The Australian Psychological Society (APS):
- The Australian Counselling Association (ACA):
The cost of accessing professional supervision can vary depending on the organization or individual providing the service. It is important to research and compare different options to find the best fit for your needs and budget.
Let's Talk Support Work Sessions
As an independent support worker, you're always welcome to join Kynd's "Let's Talk Support Work" online community sessions. Led by experienced facilitators, these sessions dive deep into important topics for disability support workers.
Our events and workshops are free and they’re a great way to build your skills and knowledge through shared learning. Join in and feel supported by a community of passionate professionals, network with peers, and explore a variety of NDIS topics.
Get your invitation to these sessions by adding your email above, or by creating your support worker profile on the Kynd platform. See you on video soon?
The Business and Career Benefits of Professional Supervision for Disability Support Workers
Engaging in professional supervision can have long-term benefits for an independent support worker's career and/or NDIS business reputation.
It can help them improve the quality of their services, increase their knowledge and skills, and promote a culture of best practices within their organisation or in themselves for independent sole trader support workers.
It also demonstrates a commitment to self-improvement and professionalism, which can be attractive to clients, Support Coordinators, and other stakeholders.
This level of quality, experience and investment in their craft can also help an independent support worker to genuinely justify their professionalism - and justify them requesting or charging higher rates for their services.
Supervision for Support Workers
In conclusion, professional supervision is essential. Like any investment, you're doing it to get a positive return - and when it comes to professional practice for disability support workers, the 'ROI' is extremely high from many perspectives.
- Higher professionalism
- Developing expertise in your craft
- Improving your career or business
- Ensuring health and safety
- The ability to request higher rates
- Meeting compliance obligations
- Safety for NDIS Participants
And the list always goes on!
Whether you're an employee for a large provider organisation, or a one-person sole trader, take the lead and get yourself set up with professional supervision.
Disability support workers engaging in supervision need to think about what they want to achieve from the sessions. What are your objectives? Why are you doing this? Having specific goals and intentions will improve the supervision experience.
Life is a boomerang, right? We often get back what we put out.