2022 Emerging Research Fellowship – Dr Johnny Bourke
Over one million people in New Zealand experience disability, and many disabled people require disability support workers (DSWs) to perform daily tasks and participate in their communities. The DSW sector is facing unprecedented challenges. Disability support workers are undervalued, prone to burnout and lack career pathways. Furthermore, the total number of DSWs is projected to decrease while the number of disabled people who require DSWs is projected to increase. To address this challenge this study aims to understand factors influencing the quality of DSW relationships with DP in Canterbury, and how the context in which DSW relationships are provided impacts on outcomes. Data will be collected via focus group and individual interviews with disabled people, their whānau, DSWs and service providers. Establishing a clearer understanding of ‘what works’ for both disabled people and DSWs in Canterbury will help target resources and funding for effective provision of disability support services. This can help clarify the necessary skills and competencies required of DSW, inform DSW career pathway trajectories, and ultimately build disability support services that empower disabled people to have equity of opportunities in New Zealand society.