Skills Development: Functional Living Skills

Most individuals with a disability need extra support to undertake daily activities. The important factor is to have realistic expectations and understand the specific support the individual requires as each person is different. Adults with intellectual disability may require step by step methods to help learn tasks. Some of the functional living skills that can be carried out independently are: cooking a meal, vacuuming the floor, starting a washing machine, handling money, grocery shopping etc.

Teaching Techniques

There are a variety of teaching techniques for each activities. Each person is different and therefore some may find it easier to learn if they: watch a video, have a family member helping with the task, joining a local community group, and or having step by step photo sequences of the activity.

Backward chaining is a technique that teaches the individual the task in reverse order. This method helps the person receive instant success and therefore likely to increase their motivation and confidence.

Schedules helps individuals to be remember activities to be carried out, therefore bringing routine and predictability to their day. It is also recommended that using pictures will help them to learn the routines and therefore promoting independence.

There are ways to make the activity easier, for example, changing the environment or using different techniques.

  • Purchasing scourers and sponges with thicker handles and finger gloves for ease of use
  • Sitting down for tasks that do not require the individual to be standing
  • taking breaks and rests in between each task.



Government of South Australia 2013 , Disability Information, < >


From the Shelf to the Plate

Sharing Places is committed to promoting the recognition of the competence of clients.  Programs and services are designed and administered so as to provide opportunities for people to reach personal goals, and enjoy lifestyles which are valued by the community.  We focus on actively engaging people in any activity which increases the time that clients are engaged in a purposeful way and ensures those who require more support to participate, receive it.

The participation in community and other activities is based on the individual’s skills, interests, strengths and potential while being guided by the person’s goals.  Activities are reviewed regularly and this process involves identifying current activities, how these meet the individual’s needs, goals and interests, how the activities could be further enhanced, and/or identifying other activities that meet the individual’s needs, interests and goals.

Henry participates in a cooking program which entails so much more than merely cooking.  Firstly, Henry carefully selects what he will be cooking.  He then makes a list of the ingredients and plans for a shopping trip to purchase the ingredients.  Then the magic happens and the cooking process is completed which includes preparation, mastering cooking techniques, and cleaning up afterwards.  Then it’s time to celebrate by enjoying and sharing the finished product.

From the Shelf
To the Plate

Workplace Bullying and Harassment

What is workplace bullying and harassment? Check out this short video.

Workplace bullying is a form of harassment and this together with gender, cultural and religious harassment will not be tolerated at Sharing Places.

We recognise that workplace bullying, gender, cultural and religious harassment can affect the health and well-being of individual employees and/or groups of employees. We also recognise that all employees have the right to work in an environment free from workplace bullying and harassment.

Workplace bullying, gender, cultural and religious harassment may involve:

  • behaviour aimed to demean, humiliate or intimidate employees either as individuals or as a group
  • loud and aggressive tactics like yelling or screaming abuse
  • subtle intimidation like inappropriate comments about personal appearance, constant criticism, isolating workers from normal work interaction, or setting impossible deadlines
  • adult/sexually explicit, sexist or vulgar material which is, or reasonable capable of offending another person displayed in the workplace or sent by e-mail
  • attributing stereotypical or extreme behaviour to a particular racial or religious group

We encourage all employees to report workplace bullying, gender, cultural and religious harassment via its Employee Grievance and Disputes Policy. Any report of workplace bullying, gender, cultural and religious harassment will be treated seriously and investigated promptly, confidentially and impartially.

Manual Handling

Manual handling includes any activity requiring the use of strength exerted by a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry, or hold a person. These activities are associated with risks of injury to the musculoskeletal system. The manual handling of people with a broad range of mobility, psychological, or intellectual disability create increased risks. The situations when this can occur include:

  • resistance to assistance
  • aggression
  • impaired ability to communicate or understand communication
  • working in confined spaces
  • height, size, weight, strength of the person/s receiving and providing the assistance

Manual handling injuries include:

  • muscle
  • ligament
  • intervertebral disc
  • cuts, bruises, broken bones
  • hernia
  • occupational over use syndrome

Risk Management

In order to support people safely, Sharing Places trains each new worker in the hazards associated with manual handling and in the proper use of manual handling procedures. We encourage them to always consider the following while supporting participants:

  • Identify: any existing or potential hazards related to manual handling, review and obtain any information relevant to the person/s and activity.
  • Assess: the risks of lifting the object or person and your own physical ability.
  • Control: what manual handling equipment is to be used? Is assistance required?
  • Monitor/review: safe working procedures, do they need to be updates to reflect any changes? And any new information must be shared among staff.



Safe Work Australia, < >

Communicable/Infectious Diseases

Sharing Places is committed to minimising the risk of communicable and infectious diseases to staff and participants.

Definition: Infection is caused by pathogens (bugs) such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa or fungi getting into the body. It can take some time before the microbes multiply enough to trigger symptoms of illness, which means an infected person may unwittingly be spreading the disease during this incubation period. Infection control in the workplace is aimed at preventing pathogens from coming into contact with a person/persons.

Transmission of infection can be spread in a variety of ways including airborne, contaminated objects and food, skin to skin contact, or contact with bodily fluids.

The basis of good infection control in the workplace is to assume that everyone is potentially infectious. Proper procedures are to be followed at all times. These include:

Personal Hygiene

Hand washing – the spread of many pathogens can be prevented with regular hand washing. Any cuts or abrasions should be covered with a waterproof dressing.

Disposable gloves should be worn when handling body fluids or equipment containing body fluids. Personal items such as towels, clothing, razors, toothbrushes, shavers should not be shared.

Food Preparation

Wash hands before and after preparing food; avoid touching hair, nose and mouth when preparing food, keep hot food hot and cold food cold, wash all utensils and preparation areas thoroughly with hot water and detergent.

Cleanliness in the Workplace

Regularly wash floors, bathrooms and surfaces with hot water and detergent. Mops, brushes and cloths should be washed and and dried after every use. Use disinfectants to clean up blood and other spills of bodily fluids. When using disinfectants always wear gloves. Ensure all group areas have separate and clearly labelled mops and buckets for the kitchen and bathroom areas.

All groups are to ensure they have a spill kit readily available. The kit should include a bucket, a scoop, disposal cleaning cloths, gloves, an apron and disinfectant. All public accessible bathrooms utilised by Sharing Places should have spills kits.

Participant Safety in Vehicles

Sharing Places has 25 service vehicles, and many of these have been modified to transport fixed wheelchairs (see the pictures below). All reasonable action is taken by Sharing Places to ensure the safety of any person being transported in the service vehicles.

Staff are to drive within the designated speed limits with due diligence and consideration of their duty of care.

Staff are responsible to ensure that all passengers wear seat belts. As part of the staff Competency Appraisal (which is completed within the first 3 months of employment), all new staff must demonstrate the correct use of wheelchair restraints.

Whenever possible, a staff member must be in the vehicle whilst the hoist is in use. When there is only one staff member available every precaution should be taken to ensure safety is maintained, ie locking doors, and.or ensuring participants are away from vehicle controls.

Any participants utilising electronic wheelchairs must have the controls disengaged whenever they are in the vehicle or on the hoist.

The vehicle’s motor must be turned off when the hoist is in use and, after the hoist has been unloaded, it is the responsibility of the staff member controlling the hoist to immediately return the hoist to the raised position to allow the remaining wheelchair participants and staff to exit the vehicle safely.

First aid equipment, a fire extinguisher, and a seatbelt slasher are to be kept in each vehicle at all times.

Staff are not to leave participants unattended or out of reach while transporting, and wherever possible, staff are to sit with participants.

Some rear seats have been removed and some seats fold up when not in use.
A hoist has been installed.
Step and hand rails installed to aid mobility and independence.

Work, Health & Safety for Disability Support Workers

Work, Health and Safety (WHS) training is important for all employees that care for and work around individuals with disabilities. WHS is a system used to prevent and reduce accidents, injuries, death, disease, illness, and near misses.

The Work Health & Safety Act 2011 sets responsibilities that employers, employees, and representatives must comply with. The Act clearly states that safety is the responsibility of employees, employers, and representatives and encourages parties to consult and work together to resolve health and safety issues in the workplace.

Duty of Care: Every person owes a duty of care to every other person who is likely to be injured by the first person’s failure to act. The law requires professionals to take all reasonable care in carrying out their work and ensure that appropriate standards of care are met. Carers need to use their professional skills and experience to decide on what actions they should take in each situation of potential harm. Where possible, decisions should be discussed with the team coordinator.

Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs): are people selected by co-workers to act on their behalf as a contact point for consultation to resolve health and safety issues in the workplace. There is a HSR nominated in each support team and they meet regularly to discuss issues.

Hazards and Risks. A hazard is anything that could hurt you or someone else. A risk is the likelihood/probability of being harmed, consequences occurring and the severity of harm that a hazard may cause. The event is calculated in terms of losses to people, property and equipment. Hazards can include physical hazards (heat, noise, dust); hazardous substances; environmental hazards; psychological hazards and biological hazards (infectious diseases).

Risk management involves a systematic approach to: 

  • Hazard identification: identifying all existing and potential hazards in the workplace.
  • Risk assessment: measuring the likelihood and severity of potential injury or illness resulting from a hazard.
  • Risk Control: Using any devices, systems, or other means to eliminate or reduce exposure to the workplace hazards or risks.
  • Monitoring and review: Continuous improvement requires constant review.

The four key safety management steps are:

See it (identify the hazards): Use your senses, knowledge and experience to identify hazards that may be dangerous to you and others.

Assess it: Work out how likely it is that the hazard will hurt someone and how badly they could be hurt.

Fix it (control the hazard): Fix the hazard yourself if you can, or tell someone who is able to fix it.

Evaluate it.