Using Online Platforms to Find Support Workers
For NDIS Participants, finding the right support worker to meet their needs is important, but it isn’t always straightforward.
Using a dedicated agency may deliver support workers with a higher level of qualification, but they can be cost prohibitive. On the other hand, for a participant to source and employ support workers themselves means a lot of work and added risk.
That’s where online platforms come in.
What Are Online Platforms for Support Workers?
An online platform for support workers is a relatively new concept that borrows from tech startups like Uber or Freelancer.com, but tailored specifically for people looking to hire support workers.
Often developed with aged care or the NDIS in mind, these businesses are essentially a marketplace that allow users to browse a selection of providers who advertise their specialist services on the platform.
And they’re very popular. In fact, from 1 July 2022 to 31 December 2022, more than 13,000 NDIS participants used a platform to seek services and supports.
Online Platforms: The Pros and Cons
Each participant will have unique needs that may influence how they seek to find and engage support providers. But, in general, there are some clear benefits for using online platforms for the task.
- Worker availability – The most obvious benefit of using a platform is that they tend to offer readily available workers – participants and their representatives get to choose from a wide variety of options at their fingertips, and the entire process is managed online.
- Price – Online platforms also offer a lot of transparency into the fees a given support worker will charge. However, the platform itself will in some cases add a service fee that also needs to be accounted for when it comes to managing a participant’s budget.
- Choice and control – Likewise, the variety and flexibility these platforms offer mean they can facilitate choice and control for participants in how they spend their NDIS funding.
At the same time, the growing popularity of online platforms has also revealed some potential drawbacks, which participants and their representatives need to keep in mind.
- Worker status confusion – Because these platforms operate much like Uber, they’re subject to the same concerns that relate to the gig economy. Support workers are generally considered self-employed, but their rights, pay and other conditions of employment are a source of contention, as discussed in the NDIA’s Own Motion Inquiry into Platform Providers Operating in the NDIS Market.
- Safety risks – Support workers on online platforms may not be required to have the same qualifications as those sourced via agencies, and in some cases may have very limited experience of working with people with disabilities in general.
This leads to some clear risks when it comes to both the safety of participants and the workers, too.
- Limited recourse – Likewise, as they’re not employees, it’s less cut and dry as to who is liable if something were to go wrong. Participants using online platforms should be aware that they may have limited recourse when it comes to lodging complaints or seeking redress if a service isn’t performed to an adequate standard.
Key Differences Between Major Local Platforms
There are a number of online platforms participants can choose from when looking for support workers in Australia.
Each of these will have slightly different business models, so it’s worthwhile taking the time to understand their fees and charges, as well as any other differences in the fine print.
Below, we provide a general summary of these key differences for Careseekers, Find a Carer, Hireup, Kynd, Like Family and Mable.
|Platform||Point of difference||Cost structure and fees|
|Careseekers offers a wide variety of support types except therapy supports.
While they don’t have a dedicated mobile app, its comprehensive online portal is available for access by a participant’s support coordinator.
|Hourly rates are set by each carer and dependent on qualifications and services required.
Careseekers receives a percentage of the hourly rate charged.
|Find a Carer
Catering to all NDIS participants, this platform is designed to handle all aspects of recruitment, scheduling and payment in one place.
|While Find a Carer offers a wide range of services including therapy supports, it doesn’t offer a dedicated support coordinator portal nor does it include clear incident and safeguarding reporting.||Support workers set the rates, while Find a Carer adds a ‘scalable’ fee determined by payment method and how much assistance the participants require. Fees range from 12.5-25%.|
|This platform includes a dedicated app as well as a wide variety of support types including therapy supports.
There’s also a specific version designed for support coordinators to help manage supports on behalf of their participants.
|Unlike many other platforms, Hireup sets an hourly rate and then pays the support workers a participant engages as an employee.
Detailed information on pricing is available via the Hireup website.
|Support coordinators can create a specialist ‘coordinator account’ and Kynd are committed to verifying each of the support workers on its platform.||Participants engage support workers for a listed price. The Kynd website states that 88% of this price goes to the worker, while it keeps 12%.
Kynd also offers a ‘BYO’ option whereby participants get a reduced fee of 7% when they bring their support provider onto the platform.
|Like Family offers a wide variety of supports with a focus on fun and community.
While it doesn’t include therapy supports, it does offer a support coordinator portal.
|Like Family charges a flat one-on-one fee starting at $55 per hour.
Support workers are independent contractors, and receive a flat rate payment per hour. They’re also subject to a thorough vetting process to ensure safeguarding standards.
|This platform has a dedicated app option including support coordinator portal.
It also includes a very wide variety of support service types including therapy supports.
|Mable allows support workers to set their own rate within a minimum hourly rate of $36 and the NDIS price cap. It then adds a 7.95% fee on top.|