Disability worker

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Lucy, Disability Worker & Assistant Supervisor

Lucy, a disability worker and the assistant supervisor at Bayley Respite House, has been working in this field for six years. She became interested in this line of work partly because her brother has an intellectual disability, and partly because she wanted some practical experience for her physiotherapy course at university.

What does a disability worker do?

Over the past few years, Lucy has had a variety of experiences, working for a range of companies, and with people with different disabilities.

Addressing some of the misconceptions about disability work, she says, "There has always been some confusion as to what our role entails. The public used to have this idea of us as 'glorified cleaners', but we are more respected now as a profession because of our role in the health industry."

What are some of the pros and cons?

She says that the work has always been rewarding because you're constantly making friends and helping people: "The job is really interesting. You have the opportunity to help people all the time; the hours are flexible so you can fit the work around full time study; you work with people with similar interests to your own; and you go on some really excellent day trips."

However, Lucy adds the job does have its downsides: "Because the job is shift work, you can say goodbye to sleeping-in, and you'll also need to accept that there will be some clients you just won't be able to build rapport with."

What does the job involve?

So, apart from being prepared for early morning starts, if you're after a career in disability work, it helps if you're energetic, patient, enthusiastic, literate, and possess good people skills.

In any one day, Lucy will wake up her clients, assist them with the daily hygiene rituals of teeth brushing, showering and toileting, and prepare breakfasts.

She then sees the clients off to their training workshops, and then starts on house duties (such as cleaning and cooking), before starting the cycle all over again.

While there aren't any major changes in Lucy's day-to-day duties, she says that the variety comes from the clients who are always so different.

Once in a while, there are also scheduled leisure activities: "There are fun aspects to the job, too. Some evenings we all go out with our clients to the movies, to dinner or maybe even bowling," says Lucy.

Any tips for new players?

Finally, Lucy advises that if you want to get into disability work, you should be prepared to deal with mild dilemmas calmly, and have the capacity to be patient, and not to panic. "Always be on the lookout. Expect the unexpected and you can't go wrong!"

Find out more about a career as a disability worker

Visit the myfuture website to find more about duties and tasks, work conditions, earnings and required qualifications for a career as a disability worker.

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).