Afea Care Services, Author at Afea Care Services

It’s never been more important to ask R U OK?

What we’re doing at Afea this R U OK Day

It’s no secret that many of us are struggling this year more than usual. Many have reduced income, increased health anxiety and our friends in Victoria are coping with a lockdown that must feel never-ending.

At Afea, mental health has always been a focus but we’re placing even more emphasis R U OK Day this year. This year the theme is “There’s more to say after R U OK?”. Here’s what we’re we’re doing:

We’re wearing yellow

Thursday 10th September 2020 is R U OK Day. Everyone in the office and even some of our carers are wearing yellow. It’s the colour of the charity R U OK Day and is a visual reminder to start a conversation.

We started our day with mindfulness

There’s evidence that mindfulness-based programs can improve stress resilience, relationships and help anxiety and depression. We have long been advocates of mindfulness at Afea and often include it in our team training sessions. Today, for  R U OK Day, we began our day with a mindfulness session so we can get in touch with our emotions and start our day with a clear state of mind.

We’re keeping an eye out

At Afea, we’re committed to providing a safe workplace where everyone can be comfortable showing their true selves. We encourage all our staff to think about their colleagues and clients and to keep an eye out if things don’t look quite right. If we don’t think we’re the right person to offer support, we do our best to find help through our Employee Assistance Programme or the person’s family member.

We’re encouraging everyone to continue the conversation

If anyone has a concern about a colleague, family member or friend, we encourage them to start a conversation and follow up with them after today.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Ask – When you ask the question, make sure you’re somewhere private and quiet. You want the person to feel comfortable enough to say ‘No’ if that’s what they’re feeling.
  2. Listen – Instead of trying to solve the problem, the best thing to do is listen. Don’t judge them or make any assumptions. Acknowledge that the problem sounds tough and show the person you’ve been listening by repeating the key points back to them.
  3. Encourage action – Ask them how they might have solved the problem in the past or what they think might help. They may need some expert help from a GP or a psychologist so encourage them to seek professional help.
  4. Check in – the theme for this year is ‘There’s more to say after R U OK?’ and we’re encouraging everyone to follow up. Put a reminder in your diary to check in with your friend in a few weeks. Remind them that you’re there for them and want to help if they need it.

We’re encouraging everyone to think of others in their lives who may not be ok

In these isolated times, many people simply haven’t seen their friends or family so may not know how they’re doing. We’re encouraging everyone to check in with people they haven’t seen in a while. Send them a letter or even bake them something and leave it on their doorstep. Ask that important question – R U OK and follow up in a few weeks. You never know if it’s the conversation that might change a life.

Visit the R U OK website for more conversation tips.

Why it’s more important than ever to keep Australia beautiful

Did you know that this week is Keep Australia Beautiful week? The Keep Australia Beautiful movement was founded in 1968 and has been working towards a sustainable and litter free Australia ever since.

Never before has it been so challenging yet so important to look after our country. There aren’t any community litter cleaning events this year due to COVID-19 so the approach is a bit different. We need to focus on how to ensure litter doesn’t reach our bushland and waterways in the first place.

For us at Afea, having a beautiful country isn’t just about cleaning up. We believe our country is also beautiful because of our actions and the way we treat each other. Here are some things we can do as individuals and families to keep Australia beautiful.

Don’t throw litter on the ground

This is an obvious one. When you’re out and about, always find a bin for your rubbish and if there isn’t a bin, take it home with you. It’s particularly important to make sure we throw out litter away as it can help stop the spread of disease. Also, make sure don’t leave your cigarette butts on the floor. Aussie smokers dispose of billions of butts each year which could end up in nature.

Try not to use single-use plastics

Before this year, we were doing well at reducing single-use items – using a Keep Cup was becoming habitual and some restaurants would even allow take-away in reusable containers. That’s all changed due to COVID-19, as these reusable containers could be too much of a hygiene risk for restaurant staff.

However, we should still be mindful of the number of single-use plastics we are using. Try to make more food from scratch and when you do get takeaway, ask for eco cutlery that is made of wood or bamboo. Or ask for no plastic cutlery at all if you’re eating your meal at home.

Recycle where you can

You can recycle your single-use coffee cups at any 7-Eleven store. They take any cup brand (plus the lids) and upcycle them into meaningful new products. According to their website, used cups have been turned into outdoor furniture, garden beds and even a road.

Your plastic take-away containers can also be recycled but make sure you rinse them before putting them in the recycling bin. Food can contaminate other clean recycling and the whole lot could end up in landfill. Not what anyone wants!

Don’t put rubbish into already full bins

Don’t you hate it when you see birds or other wildlife picking out rubbish from an overfull bin and spreading it across the grass or road? It makes a huge mess and is a leading cause of litter ending up in our environment. If your bin is full, check with your neighbours and see if you can put a bag in theirs. It’s a bit inconvenient looking for another bin but it’s better than all our waste ending up in our waterways or bushland.

Rethink the plastic you use every day

Think about the number of single-serve items you buy and whether you could buy bigger serves. For example, could you buy bigger yoghurt containers rather than single-serve pots? Could you put your child’s lunch into a sealed lunch box instead of wrapping in cling wrap? Every time we use less plastic, the environment thanks us.  

Share the beauty of Australians

Sometimes, we get caught up in ourselves and don’t notice the beauty both in nature and the people around us. Next time you’re out and about, try to share the beauty of human connection. Say hello to the people you walk past and share a smile. You could even point out the lovely sunrise or comment on the weather. You could share your own beautiful nature by doing a good deed – pay it forward by buying a coffee for the person behind you or some groceries for a neighbour.

Australia is a stunning country with amazing people. It’s never been more important to keep Australia beautiful and be thankful we live in such a lovely corner of the world.

What’s your tip for keeping Australia beautiful?

Why company culture is so important at Afea

Have you ever worked in one of those jobs where you’re counting down the hours until it’s time to leave? Or where you feel stifled and unsupported by your manager? Of course you have, we all have!

Not at Afea though. We have worked hard on growing a positive and nurturing company culture. We believe having a good company culture is beneficial not just to our own happiness but to the happiness of our Clients.

What is company culture?

According to Frances Frei and Anne Morriss at Harvard Business Review:

“Culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off.”

Having a good company culture has always been important to us. After all, our jobs occupy most of our waking hours. We know our values and we try to make sure everyone who joins us matches up with them. We’ve even recently created a culture book which defines exactly what it’s like at Afea and what we believe in.

For us, there are three elements to having a good company culture.

1. We have a culture of empowerment

One of our core missions at Afea is empowerment. This culture of empowerment starts at the very top. It means our managers empower us to make decisions and use any mistakes as opportunities for growth. We have a culture of development, support and mentorship. We don’t feel afraid to speak our opinions and are trusted to manage our work in the best way possible.

As a result, we extend this empowering culture to our community. We help our Clients learn and grow to the best of their ability. We help rebuild confidence and improving lives day-by-day. Empowering people leads to amazing results, which inspires us to continue caring and helping.

2. We have a culture of good mental health

The mental health of our people is something we place a huge emphasis on. Recently, our CEO, Esha Oberoi ran a series of introductory meditation sessions for our Carers, explaining its benefits and how to start doing it.

We often run meditation sessions in the office and remotely for Carers. We believe we can’t truly take care of others without first taking care of ourselves. It’s this culture of prioritising our mental health that ensures our staff, Carers and Clients feel safe and nurtured.

3. We have a culture of fun!

At Afea we believe the office is a space for fun, not just for work. We jump at the chance to celebrate anything and everything we can, especially when it’s for a good cause.

In the last few months, we have celebrated:

  • Stress Down Day – we wore pyjamas to work to recognise the good work that Lifeline does in the community.
  • We were decked out in denim for Jeans for Genes Day, to raise awareness for children born with genetic diseases.
  • We love celebrating diversity by learning about each other’s cultures and often mark the occasions with home-cooked traditional meals.

What do you think makes a good company culture?

Our Supported Independent Living home has a new resident

This month we welcomed our newest resident into our Supported Independent Living home. We marked the occasion with balloons, gifts, cake and a little get together with the client’s Support Coordinator, Afea Care Manager Raju, Afea Carer Annette, and our Supported Independent Living House Manager, Sri.

Celebrating the newest resident of The Oxley Park Supported Independent Living home

What can our newest resident expect on their supported independent journey?

Our new resident has just begun a journey of growth as they learn to live independently with the help of our staff. They have moved into one of our three recently refurbished Oxley Park townhouses. These homes have private backyards, lots of natural light and have open plan living, dining and kitchen areas.

Our main Supported Independent Living Carer, Annette, has been working in the accommodation since it opened. She sees everyone making huge strides and she’s seen big improvements in the residents’ lives.

How are our Independent Living residents supported?

Annette supports our residents in many ways. She helps them get ready in the morning and has been showing them how to cook delicious meals. She teaches the residents how to budget their money and spend wisely when they go on shopping outings (which have become a weekly highlight!)

Supported Independent Living House Manager, Sri sees the progress residents makes each day. He says: “It’s really heart-warming to see our residents’ lives transform for the better. You wouldn’t believe how far they’ve come with the right support and a stable home.”

We hope our new resident will love their supported independent life and will enjoy getting to know their Afea Carers and fellow housemates. Welcome!

Find out more about the benefits of Supported Independent Living here.

NDIS funds can now be used to pay for PPE

The NDIA has announced another update to the Price Guide to offer more flexibility and protection to its participants. From now until September, participants can claim up to $50 from their Core Supports funds to pay for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

NDIS participants in NSW and Victoria who receive an average minimum of one hour per day of face-to-face Daily Living supports may be eligible for the new item.

PPE that may be claimed includes face masks, face shields, and gloves however they may only be used within their face-to-face supports. Hand sanitiser and protective equipment for the use of participants outside of their homes and services are considered to be a personal expense and will not be reimbursed by the NDIS.

What this means for participants

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 breakout, many NDIS participants have put their non-essential services on hold to avoid risk of infection. Even ‘non-essential’ services have an impact on people with a disability. Clients should feel safe getting the supports they’ve previously received.

People who have services on hold may find themselves with surplus funding. Unfortunately, this could result in a reduction in the amount of funds they’re approved for in their next plan.

This PPE funding update not only provides participants with extra protection and reassurance during tough times. It also allows them to receive the supports they need and continue to do so in their next plans.

How to claim PPE expenses

Plan and Agency Managed participants

These participants must buy their PPE from registered NDIS providers, such as: Bright Sky and Confidence Club. Participants will need to give the details of their Plan Manager, or the NDIS Portal to the PPE provider so they can receive payment for the goods.

Self-Managed Participants

Participants with Self-Managed plans can buy PPE from any provider and claim the cost (up to $50) against their Core Funding. The process is the same with any other service or goods being claimed whereby they record the transaction and claim reimbursement from the NDIS Portal themselves.

It is important for Self-Managed participants to ensure they have adequate funding to claim costs against.

For more information about the update, visit the NDIS website here.