Simone Kealy, Author at Afea Care Services

How you can celebrate World Gratitude Day

And what we’re grateful for at Afea

Every year in September, the world celebrates World Gratitude Day. It’s a day for us to celebrate what we have to be thankful for and how we can share this gratitude with others.

What is World Gratitude Day?

Spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy suggested World Gratitude Day in 1965 in Hawaii. The date was chosen as it is the Spring/Autumn Equinox and is one of only two times in the year where the days everywhere are equal length. Sri received the World Gratitude Day Award in 1977 in New York and the day has been honoured worldwide ever since.

Why is World Gratitude Day important?

The day allows everyone the opportunity to express appreciation for all the wonderful things in the world. Sri Chinmoy said in his acceptance speech: “As a seeker, I know that there is nothing on earth as valuable and significant as gratitude.”

This year has been a tough one for us all. We have been battling a global pandemic, many people have lost their livelihoods, loved ones and have spent months in isolation. We must be grateful for the things we do have, even if they don’t seem as bountiful as they used to be. When we count our blessings, we become more aware of the good things in our lives. We interrupt the cycle of negativity and see things in a more positive light.

What are you grateful for?

We are lucky at Afea to be grateful for so many things. We have a friendly and optimistic workplace and managers who lead with compassion. This month for World Gratitude Day think about the things you can be thankful for. They could include:

  • Your loved ones, whether they be your immediate family, friends or carers who you share your life with.
  • The food you have in your cupboard and where it comes from.
  • Your job or any other financial help you receive that helps pay your bills.
  • Our healthcare system in Australia which has done such a good job at managing COVID-19.
  • Our amazing nature including greenery everywhere and lots of beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
  • Our furry friends and the boundless joy they give.

How you can celebrate World Gratitude Day

Say thanks to someone special

Is there someone in your life who has helped you out recently? Or someone who you know is always there for you? You could write them a nice card or if you can’t see them in person, send them a text or give them a call. This celebration gives you the perfect opportunity to share your appreciation.

Thank your community

When you buy your morning coffee, do you ever properly thank the barista? What about the teacher at your child’s school or your postal worker who delivers your mail? This month, make the extra effort to thank these people in your life. Make sure they appreciate all the work they do for you every day. These people are being paid to do their job, but it’s also nice to feel appreciated for hard work.

Set up some thankful habits

How often do you think about the things you’re thankful for in your day? This month could be a good time to start some new gratitude habits. You could introduce a gratitude journal and write down one thing that you’re thankful for each day.

You could even encourage your family or household members to do the same. At dinner, you could ask each person what they’re thankful for that day. Explain to them that doesn’t have to be much, just something that made them feel thanks. You could even join the Just One Little Thing Movement – a community focused on finding happiness in the little things.

How are you going to celebrate World Gratitude Day this month?

The COVID-19 precautions we’re taking to protect our Clients and staff

We’re committed to protecting the vulnerable from COVID-19.

We heard recently in the Disability Royal Commission public hearings about reports of support workers in Victoria exposing people with a disability to COVID-19. Stories like this concern us all. At Afea, we’re doing our best to minimise potential exposure of our Clients, Carers and staff to COVID-19.

According to the NDIS, we “have an obligation to make sure that any support or service that is required by a person with disability to maintain their health, wellbeing and safety is continued to be provided. It is expected that the way in which some supports and services are delivered will need to change.”

We have introduced the following precautions during this COVID-19 period:

  • We have been following all of the recommendations and requirements of the government. This includes self-isolation after travelling or if we’re showing any flu-like symptoms.
  • We have heavily invested in extra PPE such as masks, face shields and even full-body suits. In some cases, we are also using gloves and shoe coverings as an extra precaution. All of this extra PPE has been provided by Afea so our Carers or Clients aren’t out of pocket.
  • We have asked that all staff get flu shots, and we have reimbursed the expense.
  • We have created videos with instructions for Carers. Included in these videos are proper handwashing, using PPE correctly and social distancing.
  • We have provided compulsory COVID-19 training for Carers.
  • We now conduct initial assessments and meetings with new Clients remotely where possible.
  • We have introduced remote services and shopping on behalf of the client (particularly at the height of lockdown).
  • To ensure continuity of support for our clients, we’ve introduced A and B teams in the office and conduct most of our meetings remotely. We also check everyone’s temperatures and ask them to log their visit when entering the office.

We’re also very mindful of the impact this period is having on mental health. The isolation and health anxiety can take a toll on us all. Which is why we have introduced self-care measures for our Carers and staff.

Here’s what we’re doing to ensure the mental health of our staff, so our Clients remain in safe hands:

  • We have created a private Facebook group for Carers and office staff to connect.
  • Our leaders have conducted Facebook live streams to connect with Carers and answer questions on COVID-19. Included in these sessions were questions about how to look after your mental health and how to be mindful. We’ve also given suggestions on how Carers can deal with tough situations to make sure they’re looked after and are comfortable continuing services.
  • We’ve had complimentary mindfulness sessions for all Afea staff via Zoom.

In this time of uncertainty, we all must do our best to take all the necessary COVID-19 precautions and look out for each other.

Get in touch if you would like safe support from Afea Care Services.

For more information about updates, training, alerts, and resources for NDIS participants and providers, visit their website.

Our Finance Manager is celebrating 8 years with Afea!

Sam reflects on his time with Afea  

Finance Manager, Sam, Celebrates 8 years with Afea

Finance Manager, Sam, is a CPA (Certified Practising Accountant) and has been with Afea Care Services since 2012. He is always smiling and joking with his colleagues, and nothing is ever too hard to accomplish for him and his team.

He is very supportive to everyone he comes in contact with. Around the office, he is the go-to man for anything to do with numbers or the NDIS.

After eight years, Sam is still passionate about working with Afea.

He says: “Since the beginning, I was given a lot of support both in my professional and personal life.

While I was working full time and giving my all to the company, I also wanted to learn. With support from Esha and Gaurav, I completed my CPA while still working full time.

I remember at that time I didn’t have enough space at home to study. Afea gave me the trust and freedom to use the office space to study over the weekends.”

Sam’s biggest passion when he comes into work each day is providing the best service possible to all Carers, office staff and, of course, our valued Afea and Inebura Clients. In his spare time, he is a family man and loves being with his wife and two daughters.

We thank Sam for all of his contributions and continued positivity he has brought to work for the past eight years. Congratulations on completing another year with Afea, we can’t wait to see what you do next!

5 ways you can celebrate International Day of Friendship (even if you’re in lockdown)

We share how we’re celebrating friendships and committing to making new ones

The 30th of July is the United Nation’s International Day of Friendship. You might say this year hasn’t exactly been ‘friendly’, has it? There’s been anti-racist protests, increasing anger between some of the most powerful nations and of course a global pandemic. So, I’m sure you’ll agree that celebrating and strengthening friendships has never been more important than it is now. What is the International Day of Friendship and how can you celebrate it?

What is the International Day of Friendship?

The UN General Assembly declared the 30th of July as a day of significance in 2011. They believe that friendship between people, cultures and countries can inspire peace and build bridges.

According to the United Nations:

“The resolution places emphasis on involving young people, as future leaders, in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity.”

That sounds like something worth celebrating to us! At Afea, celebrating diversity and promoting international understanding is a huge part of our culture.

With that in mind, here are some ways you can celebrate the International Day of Friendship (even if you’re in lockdown).

Call or see your friends and tell them how much you care about them

This is an obvious one – on this International Day of Friendship, it’s important to get in contact with your friends. Since COVID-19 hit our shores, you may not have seen your friends as often as usual (or perhaps not at all). For many of us, the focus has been about getting through each day and supporting our family, so spending time with friends has taken a back seat. Which means it’s even more important to reach out to your friends today.

If you’re lucky enough to be living in a state with fewer restrictions, perhaps arrange to have coffee or dinner with a friend. Tell them how much they mean to you, even if you haven’t had a chance to see them over the past few months. If you’re back in lockdown (we’re with you Melbourne 😢), then give a friend a call or set up a video chat. Being in lockdown is incredibly isolating and being able to see or hear our friends is vital for our wellbeing.

Send your friend a card

Who doesn’t love receiving mail? Next time you’re at the supermarket, pick up a lovely card and write a heartfelt message to a friend, then post it or drop it in their letterbox. Or if you’re trying to do everything online right now, you can design personalised cards with companies like Moonpig. You can even add a picture of you and your friend and if you order by 2pm, it goes into today’s post.

Bake for your neighbours

International Day of Friendship isn’t just about celebrating the friends you already have but also about making new ones. While we have to stay close to home in these difficult times, we’ve all realised the importance of our local network. If you haven’t got to know your neighbours very well, a way to make a friendly impression is to bake them some biscuits or muffins.

Having good neighbours means there’s always someone to chat to over the fence or outside your door. You can also offer simple things like picking up some milk when you’re at the shop or being a standby in case of an emergency. It’s these simple interactions that can be so helpful in times of isolation and can help spread the message of friendship.

Reconnect with someone in your past

Maybe it’s that girl you went to primary school with or a colleague you’ve lost touch with. Perhaps it’s someone you had a great connection with, but your friendship drifted apart. Today could be an excuse for getting back in touch. Send them a text or a message on social media. It doesn’t have to be too long, just something like ‘I thought I’d use the International Day of Friendship as an excuse to say Hi. I hope you’ve been doing ok over the past few months.”

It’s nice to get in touch with people right now because there’s no pressure to meet up in person if you don’t want to. You can just send a friendly text and re-establish the connection.

Celebrate diversity

As International Day of Friendship is about diversity, use this day to learn more about the diverse cultures that make up Australia. If you’re in a workplace, everyone could share their favourite dishes from their cultures. Or they could share a bit about their backgrounds and the favourite parts of their cultures.

If you’re in lockdown, you could do some research about diversity. There are amazing ABC TV programs such as Waltzing the Dragon, You Can’t Ask That and other perspectives on SBS Voice’s website. You could even commit to learning to cook a new international dish and serve it for dinner.

Do you have any other ways of celebrating International Day of Friendship?

Ever wondered “What does Afea stand for?”

We’re often asked, “What does Afea stand for?”. Is it a word? An acronym? An anagram?

To make sense of the story, you have to go back to the beginning. When our CEO Esha Oberoi founded the business in 2008, she had been working in a nursing home caring for the residents. She quickly noticed some of them didn’t require round the clock care and could have remained living at home.

Esha had been battling with poor mental health for some time and noticed the same feelings of isolation and helplessness in some of the residents in the nursing home. She decided to be the change she wanted to see and created a service that sought to empower the older community with independence. Providing support in the comfort of their own homes would prolong the need for residential care.

Through helping others, Esha gained self-confidence, and her own wounds started to heal. Her clients were her family, and her true family were there in support. She had found her place in the world.

The name for the business was never going to be something clinical or obvious. With Esha being so personally attached to her Mission, it had to come from the heart. She decided it would be an acronym of her immediate family’s names, her father Anurag, sister Freya, herself Esha and mother Anju.

Afea stands for family. This is the foundation on which the business was built and remains to this day, despite growing to operate nationally.

Employees think of their team and their clients as an extension of their family, their workplace a second home. All decisions made are in the best interest of the Afea community, and that’s the way it will always be.

Check out our culture book for the Afea journey and to hear from the team!

Disability and Homelessness

As it gets colder outside and we snuggle up under the blankets at night, spare a thought for those in our community who do not have a warm bed or shelter tonight. While anyone can find themselves experiencing homelessness, a person with a disability may be at a higher risk of it, and find it harder to overcome once they are experiencing it. Hospitals and Government agencies are stretched and are on high alert because of COVID-19, it is vital during this time that we provide support to those that are most vulnerable to homelessness.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reports that 1 in 12 people who engage specialist homelessness services (SHS) have a disability, and of those, 1 in 3 have a ‘profound disability’. AIHW state that SHS clients with a disability need a greater number of different services and support for a longer period than those without disability. Furthermore, 62% of SHS clients with a disability also experience a mental health issue, as opposed to 35% without. This limits their capacity to navigate the healthcare system and organise the necessary supports required to address their situation.

Even without the extraordinary drain on resources caused by COVID-19, hospitals often find it hard to discharge patients with a disability, due to the nature of confronting care needs of this cohort. These patients remain in hospital for longer than necessary because their circumstances are not fit for them to be discharged.

Often this comes down to the person not having the necessary supports to be safely discharged. Supports may be in the form of care at home, transportation, community-based or appropriate housing. At times, when the criteria are not met, hospitals have no choice but to send the person to a residential aged care facility.

Hospitals and aged care facilities are under pressure at this time more than any other, as they are not appropriate places for people to be housed unnecessarily. The public sector, not-for-profit organisations and disability providers all must work together to source housing options for people with a disability.

People with a disability deserve to be living in a safe, stable home that offers necessary supports, while allowing them to become independent. Hospitals and aged care facilities are not a sustainable option, and provide only a short term solution. Accommodation providers can provide fully supported living arrangements where 24/7 care, organised interventions, allied health supports and engagement with community helps the individual improve their ability to live independently with stability.

Afea Care Services has been working closely with case managers, social workers and Government agencies to ensure no one is left behind. We have been assisting homeless people with a disability to access the funding they are entitled to and navigating the health care system. We are accomplishing our  Mission to Empower People through our initiatives in sourcing suitable housing options for people with disabilities and facilitating the process to access NDIS.

If you are currently working with a participant who may be at risk of homelessness or an NDIS participant with a goal towards living in Supported Independent Living, we would love to help you.

Please call Nadeeka our Business Development Manager on 0410 066 154 to discuss further!

More about Supported Independent Living
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)
Lifeline: 13 11 14

5 Minutes with… Adi

Meet Aditya. More affectionately known as Adi around the office, he is one of the newest members of our Intake Team, who on-board each and every client of Afea’s. His friendliness, enthusiasm for helping others and ability to learn quickly, immediately made him a valued part of the team. Here’s a little about his journey in 5 Minutes with Adi.

“My name is Aditya and I have recently completed a degree at UNSW. It’s completion overlapped with COVID-19, which impacted every aspect of life. Cancelled travel plans, delayed graduation ceremonies and large amounts of uncertainty about my future.

Amidst all the chaos, I was fortunate enough to stumble across Afea.  My journey here has been nothing short of magical. I would love to take you on a trip down memory lane to explore how I came across the best workplace I’ve been a part of.

I was born and brought up in New Delhi, where I was a typical boy who loved his sports and jumped on every opportunity to avoid studies! My parents have always had a big influence on my life in terms of my values and work ethic. I finished high school in Delhi and moved to Pune to pursue my bachelors and then went onto work for Zomato. The true impact of this move was something I would come to realise in the future.

I arrived in January 2018 to begin my journey Down Under. With no family, friends, or a network in Australia, this was a challenge that scared me, yet, I was excited to face it. My love for travelling, meeting new people and talking helped during those initial months here.

The more of Australia I discovered, the more I fell in love with it. A feeling of gratitude took over and I was thankful to be where I was. Australia is the perfect place for someone like me with a passion for sports and travel. I knew during my 2 years at university that I would love to give back to the country I now call home in any way I can.

Fast forward to February 2020, fresh out of university, I was keen to start my career and use my skill set to its maximum potential. That’s when I came across Afea.

Right after my first phone interview, I knew there was something special about Afea. The interaction was extremely warm, comfortable and I felt heard. Things progressed forward and I was lucky enough to be invited to their wonderful office for further interactions. The moment I entered there was a positive vibe that hit me. I am a big believer in energies and frequencies between people and environments, and Afea was a workplace that had an X factor to it. The people, the office, the warmth – everything caught my eye and stuck with me.

Afea gave me a chance to be a part of a family. That’s exactly what we are – the amazing interactions, constant support and backing from the entire group is phenomenal. We push each other to learn and grow each day and to take pride in the way we operate internally and externally.

From a fast-paced tech-selling environment in India to the Disability Sector in Australia, the change was a drastic one which I was apprehensive to face. The industry, providers, all stakeholders, all ‘Afeans’ welcomed me with open arms. The interactions I’ve had over the past few months have been some of the best of my life. The people I’ve met, the stories I’ve heard are some of the most precious memories that I will hold very close to me.

The culture created by our CEO, Esha, is commendable. An environment of understanding, respect, and support.  One thing that really stood out in those early days, is Afea’s genuine desire to help the community. I saw teams go above and beyond their duties to help individuals, and the passion everyone has for what they do is contagious. I too, thankfully, caught the bug. 

I strongly believe that there is nothing more important than one’s family and to see the direct positive impact the work we do at Afea on the families we help is heart-warming and it keeps us going.

My love and passion for Afea and the healthcare industry has grown consistently, and I owe it all the wonderful people I’ve met, and the conversations I’ve had. I can confidently say that the people in this industry is what makes it stand out from all others.

The last few months have been surreal. I look forward to the times to come with Afea and the beautiful journey that lies ahead…”

A Milestone Celebration for Anj

There are certain people in the world that have a lasting impact on you, no matter if you meet them for five minutes or have known them for five years. Our very own Anju is one of those people.

It is rare to see her without a smile, she is never upset or angry, and always keeps her cool. Even when she was stuck in a lift near the office, fighting off a panic attack due to a mild case of claustrophobia, she was still laughing her head off whilst on loudspeaker with her teammates, who were helplessly waiting for the fire fighters to arrive.

Anju is the office mum. Metaphorically because of her caring nature, but also very literally. She is the mother of our CEO, Esha. When Esha first started the business over 12 years ago on her own, her mother was there every day.

At first bringing lunch because she knew her daughter wasn’t allowing herself enough time away from work to eat it. Then as they got busier she started answering phones. Skip ahead over a decade and Anj is still here, everyday supporting her daughter, Afea’s clients and all of her colleagues.

Anj doesn’t need to continue to work. She comes in every day because she loves it. She loves her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, all of whom she gets to see most days in the office, she loves her work family, and she truly cares about the clients she’s supporting every day.

This month we celebrated a milestone birthday of Anj’s in the office. We surprised her with a high tea while some of her family from overseas joined virtually.

Happy birthday Anju, Afea wouldn’t be where it is today without your commitment, positivity and propensity to go above and beyond.

We love you!

6 Mindfulness Myths

The practise of mindfulness and meditation are getting more and more accepted in everyday life. Large corporations such as Google encourage their staff to practise mindfulness to increase wellbeing and focus. Schools often use it to settle children after breaks, and many medical practitioners recommend its use to treat different conditions. But even so, there are a lot of persistent misconceptions about mindfulness and what it actually is. So here’s 6 myths about mindfulness for you to meditate on.

1. Mindfulness is emptying your mind

Probably the most common misconception about mindfulness, when the in fact, the opposite is true. It is about focusing all of your attention in a purposeful way. Thoughts will pop up, and the aim is to notice them come and go, without attaching any positive or negative feelings to them.

2. Mindfulness is meditation

Although they overlap, they are not the same. Meditation is taking time to focus your awareness, whereas mindfulness is a more broad term, referring to being aware of and focused on anything you’re doing at a particular time.

3. Meditation and mindfulness are spiritual

Although they are both big parts of certain spiritualities and beliefs, they are not inherently spiritual at all. The main ideology that focusing your attention on everything you do, and being present in every moment is about the self and is universal.

4. I have to sit awkwardly

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, mindfulness and meditation actually works best if you’re comfortable. The more comfortable you are, the better you can start focusing your attention elsewhere. It is best practised in a sitting position or lying down.

5. It’s just taking time to rest and relax

Although the effects of meditation can be very calming, the practice itself it actually quite challenging. But don’t worry, it gets easier with time. It is recommended that beginners start with 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Experienced people can remain in focus for hours!

6. I don’t have time to practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way of being, it can be practised anywhere, anytime. The idea behind it is to focus on what you’re doing, in the moment you’re doing it, whole-heartedly.

Next time you brush your teeth, drive a car or eat a meal, try focusing on every movement you make. When other thoughts pop up, tease your mind back to the task at hand attaching positive or negative feelings to them. The better you get at this, the more you’ll be able to live and enjoy the moment, and be able to handle stressful situations level-headedly.

To give it a go, check out our blog explaining mindfulness, it’s benefits, and a little practice you can do anywhere, anytime.

Mindfulness 101

This month for Mindful in May, we’re sharing our advice for being more mindful in everyday life. Although ‘mindfulness’ is a bit of a buzzword at moment, it’s not a new phenomenon. The practice itself dates back centuries and is seen in many different cultures. The benefits have been backed up by plenty of modern scientists and medical practitioners too, but if you still need convincing, we’ve broken it all down in this blog.

What is mindfulness?

In a nutshell, mindfulness is paying attention. It’s a widespread misconception of mindfulness or meditation, that they’re about emptying your mind. When in fact, they’re the opposite.

The aim is to use all of your attention and focus purposefully. You may concentrate on a sound, a colour, a place in your mind, or even your own breath.

With our busy minds, it’s inevitable that we lose focus, other thoughts and feelings will pop up. That’s ok, mindfulness teaches our brain to be more aware of its thoughts, rather than not having them at all.

You want to notice these distractions ‘without judgement’. In other words, acknowledge the thoughts, but try to not let them take over, or label them as inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It often helps to think of them as leaves in a stream or clouds in the sky that you’re watching float by.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Many studies have shown that mindfulness increases the speed of success in treating some mental health and even heart-related conditions, including high blood pressure.

A study by Dr. Sara Lazar from Harvard University shows a correlation between regular mindfulness and growth of the pre-frontal cortex, a part of the brain that regulates emotion and focuses attention. There are even some studies that suggest mindfulness helps build immune systems and fights age-related decline in the brain!

Practitioners promote mindfulness as a way of getting in touch with yourself. Recognising when thoughts are arising and controlling your reactions to them. Longer-term effects of regular practise can result in more focus, more patience, better decision-making abilities (the ability to use logic, over preconceived judgments) and even better memory.

So how do I do it?

Firstly, there is no one way of practicing mindfulness. There are different approaches depending on what you’re trying to achieve. Sometimes you might want to practise mindfulness to lower your heart rate when feeling nervous, other times it might be to sort through all of the thoughts in your mind to find a clear way forward.

A great way to start is by looking online. There are a free online guided meditations for specific purposes. Different approaches work for different people, try a few different resources, and see what works best for you. It’s like anything else we do, the more you practise it, the better you’ll be.

A super quick meditation for anytime, anywhere

This really simple method of mindfulness helps to calm yourself and reset a busy brain. It can be done with your eyes open anywhere.

Firstly take three deep, purposeful breaths, then silently think of three things you can see. With another three breaths, silently say to yourself with each “I can see thing 1”, “I can see thing 2”, and “I can see thing 3”. With another three breaths, silently name three things you can hear. Finally, name three things you feel. These can be physical, i.e. “I feel the chair against my back”, or they can be emotional “I can feel some butterflies in my stomach”. Take a further three breaths and you should feel calmer. This can be repeated for deeper effects.

This meditation acts as a ‘reset’ button for your brain. It allows you to pause all of the thoughts that are buzzing around your head, and focus on one thing at a time. The slow, purposeful breathing, will lower your heart rate, giving you a sense of calm.

In our next blog, we talk to our CEO Esha Oberoi about how she uses mindfulness to run a business, parent two young children and find time for everything else.