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Everything you need to know to be an individual support professional

So, you want to be an individual support professional but are confused about the required skills? 

According to a survey by Zippia, about 154,933 personal support workers are currently employed in the United States.

If you also want to become one of them, here are the skills you must embrace!

1. Develop empathy and communication

Respond with empathy by acknowledging the person’s feelings and validating their experiences. Pay attention to their facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice to catch emotions and sentiments.

Ask open-ended questions to encourage deeper conversations and allow the person to express themselves fully. 

Engage in exercises that promote empathy, such as imagining scenarios from someone else’s perspective or participating in role-playing activities.

Give individuals the time to express themselves, especially if communicating is challenging.

2. Pursue training and education

Select a program that suits your interests, schedule, and budget. Actively engage in your coursework, attend lectures, participate in discussions, and complete assignments to gain a strong foundation in the necessary skills and knowledge. 

Seek opportunities for supervision and mentoring from experienced professionals in your field. Learning from their insights and guidance can enhance your skills and understanding. 

If you’re based in Australia, unlock your potential as an individual support professional at Apex Training Institute. Gain essential skills in empathy, communication, and legal standards. 

Elevate your career and embark on a fulfilling journey of growth and empowerment. Stay curious and committed to lifelong learning by regularly reading books, journals, and articles related to individual support and related disciplines.

3. Familiarize with legal standards

Research the legal regulations and requirements specific to your location and field. Understand the laws that govern your practice, such as those related to confidentiality, privacy, informed consent, and professional conduct. 

Attend workshops, seminars, and conferences focused on legal and ethical issues in your field to learn from experts and stay updated on regulation changes. 

If you’re working under supervision, regularly discuss legal and ethical issues with your supervisor. 

Laws and regulations may change over time, so keep your knowledge current.

4. Build skills of cooperation with medical needs

Maintain open and clear communication with the individual’s medical care team, including doctors, nurses, therapists, and other healthcare professionals. 

Gather and understand the individual’s medical history, including diagnoses, medications, allergies, and specific medical needs or restrictions.

Work with medical professionals to develop a comprehensive support plan that addresses medical and non-medical needs. 

Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures and protocols in case of medical crises. Be prepared to respond appropriately and seek immediate medical attention if necessary.

If the individual uses medical devices or equipment, maintain and use them correctly. 

5. Learn proper laundry and cleaning

Plan a regular laundry, dishwashing, dusting, cleaning, and disinfecting schedule. 

Help the individual organize and declutter their living space to create a more comfortable environment. 

Empty trash cans and replace liners as needed. Change and wash bed linens regularly to ensure comfort and hygiene. 

Prioritize safety while cleaning, ensuring that cleaning products are properly stored and any potential hazards are addressed.

6. Know to administer first aid and CPR 

Administer appropriate first aid based on the individual’s condition, injury, or illness. To reduce swelling, control bleeding by applying pressure with a clean cloth or bandage and ice or a cold pack.

Immobilize fractures or suspected fractures and provide comfort and reassurance while waiting for help to arrive. 

Dial the emergency services number in your area or instruct someone nearby to do so. If you are trained in CPR and comfortable doing so, give rescue breaths after 30 compressions.

7. Take care of the patient’s meal

Gather detailed information about the individual’s dietary restrictions, allergies, preferences, and any specific nutritional requirements. 

Serve appropriate portion sizes based on the individual’s dietary needs and goals. Consider using measuring utensils if necessary. 

Plan meals according to the individual’s preferences for textures and consistencies, especially if they have specific chewing or swallowing difficulties. If possible, involve the individual in meal planning or preparation.


As an individual support professional, you must skillfully manage practical tasks like cleaning, cooking, and laundry, respecting individual preferences. Learning and safety measures, like first aid and CPR, are crucial. 

Your role is about helping, building relationships, and fostering a sense of empowerment. Dedication, compassion, and ongoing growth define this role, enabling you to positively impact lives and empower individuals to thrive.