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Redesigning the Role of Disability Support Practitioners


Thursday, 16th August 2018 at 3:43 pm
Luke Michael, Journalist
It is hoped a collaborative project between leading disability providers will redesign the role of disability support practitioners, helping to increase choice and control for clients and improve the effectiveness and job satisfaction of workers.


Thursday, 16th August 2018
at 3:43 pm
Luke Michael, Journalist


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Redesigning the Role of Disability Support Practitioners
Thursday, 16th August 2018 at 3:43 pm

It is hoped a collaborative project between leading disability providers will redesign the role of disability support practitioners, helping to increase choice and control for clients and improve the effectiveness and job satisfaction of workers.      

ThinkChangeGrow recently published an impact study after completing an eight-month project with National Disability Services (NDS), Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA), House with No Steps (HwNS), and Northcott.

The project aimed to redesign the role of the disability support practitioners (DSPs) in the age of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, as service providers adapted their business models to new funding arrangements and looked to better meet the needs of NDIS clients.

ThinkChangeGrow co-founder and project lead, Monika Gisler, told Pro Bono News a new approach to DSPs was needed.

“It’s actually really difficult to recruit and retain talent in the industry and also to make the industry seem attractive,” Gisler said.

“And so we figured out, maybe the DSP role is not optimal in meeting the needs of NDIS participants.”

The program generated close to 20 ideas, with two eventually selected and trialed.

One of these, the Handover Snapshot, was trialed across CPA, HwNS and Northcott.

Gisler said: “This project looked at creating an app allowing ease and efficiency in the handover process by way of voice-recorded notes that could be translated to script, and perhaps even from other languages to English.”

This proposed app would translate audio notes to text for handovers between DSPs at the end of shifts, Gisler added.

“We wanted to be more effective and efficient, because what we found throughout the design thinking process was that handing over takes a lot of time. And that means less time for the client,” she said.

“[A number of] CEOs told us if we could bring that to the industry, it would not just benefit the client but would also benefit cooperation between providers.

“And if a practitioner works across different providers, it just makes everything so much smoother and efficient.”

The other project, Next Chapter, was trialed at HwNS. It looked to offer NDIS participants more opportunity for meaningful engagement, by re-purposing the traditional role of DSPs into more of a “personal assistant” role, with the NDIS participant as the “CEO” of their services.

NDIS customers were not briefed or actively part of the trial, however DSPs stated in the impact study they felt the project helped clients experience more choice and control in their day-to-day lives.

Even though the project finished in May, the two ideas are still ongoing within the organisations.

Gisler said she thought the project could help shape the future of DSPs and the disability industry.

“I think this will really shape the industry, especially if providers start to collaborate and work more efficiently to cater to clients,” she said.

“Because what was amazing to see was how these providers really worked together. There wasn’t any competition… it was about ‘how can we work together in order to support our clients’.

“And we can only achieve that if we really start to work together. I think that was actually the biggest takeaway, to see this collaboration happening rather than competition.”

This comes as a recent report warned coordinated care for people with disability was at risk under the marketisation of the NDIS, with providers fearful information sharing could reduce their competitive edge.   


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


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