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Why is there a growing need for disability support workers in a COVID-19 climate?

By Katie Quirk

This year has certainly been one of upheaval and uncertainty for us all.

Before 2020, ‘isolation’, ‘lockdown’ and ‘social distancing’ weren’t words tainted by the intensely lived experience of a once-in-a-century global pandemic.

Over the past several months, in response to COVID-19’s impact, many industries have faced demand like they have never experienced before.

With medical practitioners and frontline hospital and emergency service workers finding resources stretched to their very limits at times and mental health providers seeing a surge in patients struggling with the coronavirus’ psychological fall out, the number of sick and struggling Australians is undeniably both confronting and alarming.

The disability support sector in Australia is booming

man in wheelchair receiving assistance

Another sector experiencing a significant growth in necessity, especially during these troubled times, is that of disability support.

Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, it was estimated an additional 90,000 disability service workers needed to be employed nationally to sustain the industries rapid and unwavering growth; according to the government, one in five new jobs come from the sector and spending on disability is projected to quadruple to $22 billion by 2022.

As also noted by the Benevolent Society, Australia’s first charitable organisation and one that is committed to supporting people with disability, children, families, older Australians and carers since 1813, there has been an increase in people needing help since the pandemic reared its ugly head.

Why disability services are so vital during COVID-19

As more vulnerable members of the community, those with a disability may be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 due to increased risk of infection, higher number of co-morbidities and because of underlying health conditions such as chronic diseases and respiratory illnesses.

According to a Royal Commission Statement of Concern released earlier this year that examined the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, people with a disability often rely on family and friends to provide essential services.

However, in the current pandemic climate, these people may not be able to provide their usual support due to COVID-19 restrictions and with the overall health precautions that are now in place.

Additionally, the experience of isolation can be even more daunting and intense for people with a disability if they are unable to move as freely or independently outside their residence, instead relying on social visits at home which may not be currently possible in the face of various COVID-19 restrictions.

As well as providing human connection and a lifeline to the outside world in some cases, disability support workers can also be extremely helpful in communicating important health information and instructions. For instance, demonstrating and encouraging good hygiene practices and ensuring masks are being worn effectively.

Encouraging a collectively connected community

caring concept

The adage “we’re all in this together” has been prevalent in both government messaging and public discourse during a time where it’s easy to feel anything but connected.

Disability support workers play an integral part in ensuring that despite limitations, Australians with a disability don’t feel forgotten or cast adrift during these physically, emotionally and mentally challenging times.

Looking to upskill in disability support? 

If a career in disability support might be of interest to you, Upskilled’s CHC33015 - Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) could be an ideal course to explore further.

The entry-level qualification will teach you a range of factual, technical and procedural skills as well as theoretical knowledge of the sector, to help you start your career or formalise skills you already have.

For more information or to speak with an education consultant, call 1300 009 924 or utilise Upskilled’s 24/7 Live chat feature on the website.
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