I still remember the day I received the email stating that I was successful in receiving Individualised Funding. A mixture of joy and fear filled me, as I now knew I had some serious decisions to make. My thoughts ran riot over the next few nights. The self-doubt and questions seemed never ending: Am I equipped to employ people? What if something goes wrong? What are the legal requirements? Do I have to become an employer? Overwhelmed by a barrage of endless questions scurrying around my mind, I decided it was time to get informed. However, it wasn’t easy to find the information needed.
One of the key pieces of information I wished I had known back then was that I was not required to become an employer. There are pros and cons to anything, but this is what I have learnt so far.
Finding personal assistants or support workers can be difficult, time consuming and expensive at times. Some of the avenues that I've tried in the past have also been frustrating - places like Student Job Search wouldn’t allow me to advertise for supports overnight because their policy doesn't allow students to work overnight. This is a great in theory, but doesn’t take into consideration the fact that my supports can sleep during their shift. Being an employer also means there are added responsibilities such as health and safety, payroll and vetting. The list feels endless. This can lead to a very clinical and task based working relationship. For me, it has always been important to have personal relationships with individuals who support me. At the end of the day, my personal assistants become an integral part of my life.
Mycare, in this regard, provides a more person-centred approach to hiring and managing supports. Taking the employment aspect out of the equation shifts the power dynamics to a mutually beneficial relationship.
To get the best results, I needed to know exactly the type of person I wanted. For me, it is not just about defining the hours and tasks. It's also important to think about the type of person you want to spend time with, what their interests are. Being able to share a laugh and enjoy each other’s company. This goal helps me throughout the hiring process, from the way I write my listing to the way I approach the interview process. When I was at university and wanted to hire female university students to provide support overnight, I would head the listing up with “Bring your PJs”. To ensure that the wording hit my target market, I would ask my friends to approach random strangers in the mall and ask them whether they would respond to this advert. It was a great way to learn about the power of language and refining the picture in my mind of who I wanted.
Having access to thousands of qualified, vetted professionals who are ready to work takes the guess work out of hiring, not to mention the quick and easily prepared contract and payment system, making the process quick and easy from start to finish. This is something that you require when supports are vital to your needs, but don't want to spend your entire life organising them.
Individualised Funding was introduced to enable an individual to be autonomous and self-direct their supports. However, when I first found out about employing supports it seemed onerous and overwhelming. I truly believe platforms like Mycare are the future. Through its app, you have all the supports you could ever need in the palm of your hand. Plus, because you have reduced administration and advertising fees, you are able to afford to pay your support workers a fairer wage.
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About the author: Natalie Brunzel works as a freelance Communication Consultant. She has worked within the disability sector for over 10 years. Her extensive knowledge of the disability sector and lived experience of an impairment provides a refreshing look at topical issues.