What is a Key Worker?
A Key Worker is an exciting and relatively new role which was created to assist people with a disability and their care circles to build a healthy life, meet goals and run their support team better than they could alone.
Key Workers are skilled, fresh and motivated and can assist in handling some of the day’s administration and coordination activities. The position evolved from families and individuals who had moved away from mainstream disability support services and decided to engage their own support team directly.
These groups recognised that they could either use extra help to develop a better model of support in their homes, or, once things were up and running they realised that they would benefit from stepping back a little and passing some of their role over.
Traditionally in a service-based organisation, this role might share similar responsibilities to a team leader, house manager or lead practitioner.
A Key Worker takes responsibility for a person with a disability and gives regular support while focusing on ways to help them improve their lives.
Bespoke Lifestyles helps individuals find a Key Worker. We look attentively for people with a broad skill-base and values which align with the family or individual in need.
The scope of the role can be quite varied, but often a Key Worker will spend some time during the week in direct support which allows them to gain a full understanding of the person’s skills, abilities and interests. Building this relationship is often critical to ensuring that the individual receives the very best care and support to help them live the life that they want to. The administration and coordination component of the role allows for some hours to be worked from home.
Every individual’s life is different; therefore, the Key Worker role can vary in terms of the scope of responsibilities.
These may include:
- Team management and training
- Organising and running team meetings
- Recruitment of new team members
- Processing timesheets and invoices
- Setting up systems and processes for house management
- Organising meals and shopping
- Rolling out activities to continue therapy or academic learning at home with the team
- Setting up team communication platforms and processes
- Liaising with Support Coordinator or Local Area Coordinator for NDIS
- Coordinating Therapy appointments
- Liaising with therapists to ensure strategies and tools from sessions are implemented between appointments
- Coordinating medical appointments
- Resourcing social and community inclusion activities
- Planning and coordinating enriching activities
- Helping the person source employment or volunteer opportunities
- Assisting the individual to set up a microbusiness
- Helping the individual explore assistive technology
Qualities and attributes
Whilst previous experience in the disability industry is not always essential; there are some core skills and attributes that make this role a great fit for the right people.
- Be able and willing to develop a deep understanding of the person (their skills, abilities and interests) and how they wish to live in their world
- Be able to work collaboratively with the individual and their family and show respect to the individual and family’s culture/values
- Hold an inherent belief in social justice and human rights
- Have an intrinsic belief in the dignity of every person and their right to be treated equally
- Advocate for people with disability to live a normal life
- Be responsive and able to follow-up on tasks and act quickly
- Be resourceful and able to identify relevant support tools and strategies to facilitate goals and objectives
- Be a problem solver with a can-do mindset
- Have strong leadership with superior communication skills and behavioural flexibility to bring out the best in every team member
- Hold strong administration skills to set up systems which streamline the day-to-day operation of a team, the home and activities in the community
- Have recruitment skills to direct this process or work with a recruiter that can find a great match for the individual and the team.
- Be compassionate with a genuine desire to care for and improve the lives of others
- Be a creative thinker who can think outside the box and present interesting new ideas
Benefits of engaging a Key Worker – what can be achieved?
- Create a more cohesive team
- Ability to step back from the day-to-day management
- Efficient systems in place
- Knowledge that you can hand things over to a reliable professional
- More security for the future
- Widening your viewpoint and ideas of what can be achieved
- A more formal way of passing on knowledge
- Peace of mind
A mother’s success story
“Having someone to take over and assist me was a great relief. It meant I could concentrate more on being a mother, instead of an administrator and manager of supports! It also greatly improved my son’s life because a variety of lifestyle options were explored and facilitated. Calling in support from a Key Worker helped me implement things that I had always planned but never seemed to find the time to do. Working collaboratively and having a non-family member as a sounding board, certainly relieved the ongoing stress and guilt of not doing enough that often comes with being a parent of a child with a disability!”
What individuals, families and carers say
“A Key Worker reduces the stress and workload that comes with supporting a person with a disability. It allows family and supporters to step back and focus on the relationship as a parent, sister, brother or friend. “
“This support provides a sense of trust that your loved one’s life can run without you and allows you to focus on goals for succession planning.”
“It’s great to have someone with fresh ideas, strengths and skills that help to improve my life/my son or daughter’s life.”
“As the person with a disability, it’s helpful to have someone manage my team and help me organise things. Also, as the person being cared for and relying so heavily on my carers, I often find it overwhelming to have those difficult conversations when performance issues arise. It also gives my carers someone to go to when they have challenges or areas that they are not happy with.”
Benefits of being a Key Worker
- Building a portfolio of clients that you love to work with
- Flexibility to set your own hours
- Ability to work from home
- Utilising your broad skill set
- Gaining the reward of seeing someone’s life change as a result of your input
What Key Workers have to say about the role
“It’s very rewarding. You get to see someone’s life flourish when the right systems and supports are in place.”
“This role pulls on all my skill sets and challenges me to stretch my thinking, with focus on how to improve my client’s life.”
“I love the variety of the role and the fact that I have the flexibility to work some hours from home.”
“When you get your teeth into projects that improve someone’s life and you get to see the results, there’s nothing more rewarding.”
“I know (my client’s) mum feels much more reassured now that I’m on board and everything’s going so well.”
“It feels great to have my own business and work with clients. I love that I get to make a difference. This is a big change from the inflexibility of working for a service provider, where I never felt I could help as much as I wanted to.”
“I have a great work-life balance that allows me to work the hours that fit around my family whilst still producing the best outcomes for my clients.”
Whether you are interested in engaging the services of a Key Worker or becoming a Key Worker, contact us below for more information.