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Practice Tips for Workers

There's a range of practice considerations and modifications that can be implemented to better support clients with complex needs. This section describes strategies for working with clients in the areas of building rapport and engagement, applying principles of universal communication, responding to behaviour, care planning and case management, counselling, group work and referrals.

The key points are that:

  • Having a holistic approach is the foundation for working with clients with complex needs.
  • Minor adaptations to your core practice strategies will better support clients with complex needs and will benefit all clients.
  • Using universal communication strategies will assist clients with complex needs.
  • You need to understand behaviour as a communication strategy to increase your awareness and response to what are often perceived as challenging behaviours.
  • Increasing your knowledge and understanding of complex needs issues is the key to increasing your skills and confidence in working with people with complex needs.
Practice tips for workers

Overall strategies to improve communication

Developing genuine relationships with clients is a cornerstone to improving communication. There are also some universal strategies you can use, and with a number of clients you can help by using strategies to improve their memory and attention.

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Understanding behaviour as communication

Behaviour is a means of communication, and all behaviour has a functional element. 'Challenging' behaviour is often described as communicating unmet needs.

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Care planning, case management and counselling

As a case manager in a drug and alcohol setting, you are not expected to provide all the necessary services to support a person's needs, but you are expected to work with staff from appropriate agencies to provide holistic care.

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Group work and program participation

Groups can often be challenging for people with complex needs, so special consideration is needed. There are also simple steps you can take to improve their level of engagement in your service's programs.

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Outreach, aftercare and referral

Your service can take steps to improve the experience of clients with complex needs while they are part of your program. But for long-lasting effects you also need to follow effective outreach, aftercare and referral practices for these clients.

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Supporting criminal justice clients

People who've been in prison are essentially no different to other clients and present with a similar range of issues, but with some specific considerations to take into account.

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Worker wellbeing

Ensuring your own wellbeing is crucial to helping reduce stress and avoid burnout. It can be particularly important when working with an increase in numbers of people who have more complex or challenging needs.

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