Before starting the job, meet the consumer representative in order to:
- Develop a mutual understanding of what is and what is not the role of the support worker.
- Write a short job description.
- Decide how often and when they meet outside of the meeting, e.g. before meeting, after the meeting for a debrief, etc.
- Clarify how the person wants to be supported during the meeting, e.g. some people will ask for help, some people like to pass notes, others prefer their support person to periodically ask them if they need assistance.
- Read through all relevant information supplied by the organisation.
Before each meeting get together to:
- Go over the agenda and any written materials.
- Talk though and write down any issues or questions the person wishes to raise in the meeting.
- Discuss any concerns or answer any questions the person may have.
- Provide advice or relevant information to help with decision- making if requested.
During the meeting support may include:
- Taking notes for the person.
- Providing advice when requested.
- Clarifying or explaining information when requested.
- Reminding the person of any questions or issues they wish to raise.
After the meeting support may include:
- Getting together to debrief and review decisions.
- Writing up notes in easy English.
- Encouraging feedback on the support you provided.
“Some information I [get] and some I don’t. That is why I take Sandy with me and she explains. She comes and sits down with me at the meetings and she takes notes on what is really important, umm if there is anything really important, before the meetings if there is anything important I want to say she will write it down and remind me to bring it up when it is the right time, and that and yeah she takes notes and whatever I don’t understand she will explain that to me.”
Tips from “Get On Board and Make a Difference!”, ARC of Vermont, Greenmont Self Advocates, 2003.
Support workers should . . .
- Accept that there are times the person will make decisions they do not agree with.
- Use their mistakes as learning experiences.
- Respect confidentiality.
- Be mindful of their body language, tone of voice, and other gestures that may influence a person’s decision.
- Be aware that the person they are supporting might like to hang out with others during the break times.
- Try and have their support of the person be “invisible” to others.
- Be open and willing to learn from each other.
- Let the person know in advance if they are going to be late or cannot make a meeting so they have time to make arrangements for another support person.
- Arrive at the meeting early to check-in with the person they are supporting.
- Outside of the meeting take time now and then to see how things are going in general.
Support Workers Should Not . . .
- Strongly influence or convince the person to say or do something that is not their opinion.
- Speak up and express their opinion in the meeting. Remember you are not an invited member of the committee or group.
- Over support, always keep in mind what the person said they do not want help with.
Hannah had decided to work without a support worker in her second term of appointment noting, “I didn’t want a support worker because I felt having a support worker was a put down a bit because I was growing and I thought it put me down a bit.”
Participation in Government Disability Advisory Bodies in Australia: An Intellectual Disability Perspective, 2008, Patsie Frawley
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Chapter 4. Identify and Remove Barriers
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