People matter: How Shaun grew a successful NDIS business from scratch

Asha Neil

Written on 25 November, 2022
The desire to make a difference and his personal experience with disability led Shaun Richardson to leave HR. Finding a software solution custom-built for disability support businesses has played a key role in his success.

Meet Shaun – chef turned HR manager turned business owner

A background in cooking and HR might seem an unusual combination for someone running a disability support business. But the common thread is a love for people, says Shaun Richardson, who started My Support Link in Launceston in March 2022. “I wanted to make a difference to people and their families,” he says. “My experience managing people and my HR degree gave me the confidence I could do this.”

His family’s personal experience with disability and the NDIS provided the impetus to leave his HR career. Shaun’s 21-year-old son is on the autism spectrum, while his 8-year-old son has a rare developmental condition. “Being the family member of a client, I found there wasn’t a connection with some organisations we worked with,” he explains. “A good support organisation is people orientated.”

Shaun says his business name reflects their point of difference. They frequently link participants with other supports – such as allied health professionals – who can help them reach their goals. They also collaborate with competitors.

“There’s strength in numbers,” Shaun explains. “If I can't provide support for a client, I’ll ring my competitor and see if they can. That participant-first mindset has allowed me to create some great relationships with other organisations.”

And My Support Link’s approach is making a real difference. Shaun gives an example: “We had an emergency where my participant’s husband became gravely unwell. She couldn’t look after herself. Within 30 minutes, I’d built a two-week roster and given the support coordinator a quote. We went from a panic situation to having someone on site preparing tea for my participant.”

The problem: mounting admin can stifle growth

This wouldn’t have been possible without ShiftCare, Shaun says. My Support Link started with Shaun supporting two participants. For the first month, he used a calendar and spreadsheets to run the business, spending about an hour per day on admin.

What if he’d stuck with that system? “I’d be lost. It would mean adding all the formulas and quotes into QuickBooks and sending invoices out. I’d easily be spending five to six hours a day doing admin.”

Bigger software packages weren’t the answer. “They come at a high price,” Shaun says. “Being small, there was no point spending that amount of money.”

The solution: a system designed to grow with your business

Fortunately, Shaun had encountered ShiftCare while working with another organisation. “I thought it was a cool system, so I looked at how it worked. I found it really easy.”

He signed up for a subscription and hasn’t looked back. The business grew quickly, and Shaun recruited his wife, sister and other staff. “ShiftCare has allowed me to grow organically and add more users as the business increased,” he says.

Shaun now has approximately 30 staff supporting over 40 NDIS participants. He has also started two respite homes, along with a project called A Seat at My Kitchen Table. “I lease a commercial kitchen and we teach participants basic cooking skills and empower them to make better eating choices. Two participants have gone on to get kitchen hand work but more importantly they've become healthier.”

How much admin time does all this take with ShiftCare? “Thirty minutes to an hour each day, and that’s just because I like to double check everything,” Shaun says.

Easy for everyone to use

ShiftCare is so effortless to use, everyone can grasp it quickly, Shaun says. “It's just really user friendly. I have some support workers who struggle with technology, but they found ShiftCare simple. That’s kudos to the designers.”

Fast, accurate invoicing

Shaun says he especially likes the accuracy of ShiftCare’s invoicing solution. “You can break shifts down into the right line items, such as three hours’ community access and one hour of domestic assistance. Then the participant, plan manager and support coordinator can see the cost breakdown on the invoice. That transparency is great.”

Convenient anytime, anywhere access

Shaun still does some support shifts to stay in touch with the client perspective and day-to-day world of a support worker. ShiftCare enables him to run his business efficiently from anywhere.

“I can be working under a car with a participant, pull out my phone, quickly update a roster and send it to a client. I love the fact that it's accessible from so many different platforms. I've got it on my tablet, iPad, phone and laptop.”

Quick and easy shift filling

He also loves the new job board feature. “That’s been such a godsend. In the old world, to fill a vacant shift I'd have to ring several staff. They’d have to check their roster and get back to me. Then I’d have to make more calls and let people down because someone had taken the shift.

“Now, I can put it on the job board, select the team who’ve worked with that participant, auto-approve it and it updates the roster. I don't even have to make a phone call.”

Working futures

As for the future, Shaun plans to expand into disability employment services. “Supported employment is close to my heart. I’ve seen my son not get through an interview process because he was nervous, but he could do the job. My next step through My Support Link is to empower and encourage people with disabilities to get work.”

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