Severe labor shortages exacerbate the shortage of culturally appropriate disability support workers.
But advocates say they can solve both problems by encouraging a wider range of New Zealanders to take up the job.
Some suggest that this role is ideal for students.
Shakti Krishnan told 1News that he needs support from people like him.
“It could be a really big thing, or it could be a really small thing. They might even help me relax, play a game together, or clean up around the house. There are very few things you might not expect, I need help,” he said.
“If I need to go grocery shopping, it’s as simple as having someone help me get to the top shelf. That might be the help I need.”
He has spent most of his life in a wheelchair and has always been surrounded by support workers, but it is not easy to find someone who understands him.
“I have had older people support me, nurses and middle-aged women. They don’t always understand everything that’s going on,” he said.
He had worked with young men before and enjoyed it.
“They encourage me and push me to do the same things they do at that age, which is great, like going to bars, drinking, going to clubs. I don’t think it’s possible to do that with people.”
However, with 25% of the population living with a disability, there are not enough support workers, let alone meeting their specific needs.
“They are particularly young and ethnically diverse, including Maori, Pacifica and Asian.The current workforce is predominantly middle-aged, Europeans and women over the age of 50,” said the Disabled Workforce Development Programme. Manaserua said.
He says the work is misunderstood.
“Definitely they have a misconception. I think there’s a view that it’s a chore,” he said.
Lua says this is an opportunity that more people should explore.
“The good thing is you don’t have to be qualified,” he said.
“It looks like your day job: how you support your friends and family, spend time with them, help cook, go to the movies, watch rugby. It might be like going and going,’ he said.
Indy Henman and Sophia Malthus share their work realities on social media.
Malthus said that being with Henman “makes access to the community more comfortable”, such as attending college classes.
“Indy sits in college and does college work while I take classes, so she’s completely integrated into what I’m doing.”
“It’s a great job. Don’t write it off,” Henman added.
“If you need the money, like most young people, the hours are generous. You can work 12-hour shifts.”