Afea News Archives - Afea Care Services

How we help our clients with their mental health

Why helping our clients with their mental health is so important at Afea

At Afea, talking about mental health isn’t something we only do on one awareness day or month. It’s pivotal to our workplace culture. We’ve spoken about how we work on mental health at work. As our carers spend most of their day with clients, we thought it was important to highlight how we help our clients with their mental health too.

We have learnt mental health first aid

With one in five of Australians experiencing a mental health illness each year, we recently trained up in mental health first aid. This amazing course gave us the skills to recognise when one of our friends, colleagues or clients is experiencing a mental health emergency and what to do about it. We are honoured to be part of the first million Australians to be trained up in mental health first aid.

We provide companionship services

Loneliness and isolation can have a profound effect on our mental health. A UK survey found that a quarter of people with a disability felt lonely every day. Loneliness has been compounded this year with Covid-19. People with a disability are considered more vulnerable so many people have had extended periods at home to avoid exposure to the virus.

The NDIA has made allowances for funding to be used more flexibly as a result of the pandemic, and people are able to use their funding in different ways. Often our clients would have services that took them out into the community or be involved in activities that are not as safe as they were. As an alternative, Afea carers have been visiting them in their homes to keep them company and do activities with them. It can be as simple as playing games, watching movies together or talking sport! Having this support and someone to spend time with can help reduce feelings of loneliness and social isolation and is a good way to use any outstanding funding.

We match carers and clients

When a new client joins us, we give a lot of thought to who we assign as a carer. Many of our clients see their carers every day, sometimes more than even their own family and friends. Which is why we find the best fit for both carers and clients. We match based on interests, cultural background and language so when they’re receiving services, they get along and become close. Feeling connected to someone can be a protective factor against anxiety and depression, so it’s vital that our carers and clients feel this genuine connection.

We check-in and follow up 

Caring for our clients’ mental health is just as important as their physical health. Our carers are so close to their clients that they can tell if they’re having a bad day. If they’re worried about a client for any reason, they report it back to head office. From there, we will have someone check-in with the client or we’ll talk to their family members. Our carers are like part of the family with their clients and always want what’s best for them.

We help our clients access social and community services

It’s not just about helping our clients within the home. We all know how important it is to get out and about for our mental health and it’s no different for our clients. We help our clients access social and community services such as craft groups, dance classes, book clubs or meetups with family and friends. We have provided extra PPE to make sure these social activities can go on wherever possible, even during this pandemic period.

If you want to know more about how we match our carers with our clients and the kind of services we provide, get in touch with us.

Our favourite Australian disability podcasts

What disability podcasts are you listening to?

Have you got on board with the podcast craze? 1.6million Australians regularly listen to podcasts and that number is growing all the time. We love listening to podcasts – it’s such a great way to learn new things and be entertained when we’re going for a walk or doing chores.

We also love the diversity of voices we can hear on podcasts. It allows a whole range of people to share their unique and fascinating stories. We particularly like podcasts that give people with a disability the opportunity to share their stories and opinions. Fortunately, there are many out there that do just that! Here are our top Australian disability podcasts.

ListenAble

You may remember Dylan Alcott, the Australian wheelchair basketballer and wheelchair tennis player. He recently started a podcast called ListenAble with his mate Angus O’Loughlin. They already have a weekend radio program on the Hit Network but started this podcast to talk more about life for people with a disability. They hope to break down the stigma of living with a disability by asking questions you thought were off-limits. They’re very experienced with the radio format so it’s easy to listen to and very entertaining. Listen to it here.

Inform

Inform is a national information hub for people with disabilities that already produces a website and a newsletter. Their podcast comes out monthly and is a conversation for people with disabilities about people with disabilities. It covers some fascinating topics – starting your own business, supported decision making, navigating the NDIS, finding a job. Plus, they speak to lots of inspiring people in the community who are living with a disability. Listen to it here

Disability done different

Father and daughter team Roland and Evie Naufal have candid conversations with people who’ve carved their own path in the disability sector. They want to challenge the traditional ways of doing things. Their podcast is full of relaxed conversations with fascinating people. It’s also peppered with some good-natured bickering between the co-hosts! Listen to it here

Reasonable and Necessary: Making Sense of the NDIS

Dr George Taleporos hosts this podcast which is all about navigating the NDIS. Dr George started podcasting in 2018 so there are lots of podcasts to catch up on. He looks at topics like what to do if you’re not happy with your NDIS plan, how to achieve great outcomes with the NDIS and how the NDIS can do better. Listen to it here.

One in Five

The Melbourne Disability Institute produces the One in Five podcast. They explore some of the complex issues facing people with a disability such as employment, housing, supporting families and the law. They speak to a range of experts who work in the space and many people with a disability. With one in five people living with a disability, they aim to talk about ways everyone can improve the lives of people with a disability. Listen to it here

Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability Podcast: Research to practice

Australasian’s peak body in intellectual disability were early to the podcast phase, creating their first one in 2016. They aim to promote research to inform and influence good practise and policy for people with intellectual disabilities. In their podcast episodes, they speak to researchers about topics as diverse as living in group homes, LBGTQIA+ adults who have intellectual disabilities, political citizenship, good health and more. Listen to it here.

Do you have any other podcast recommendations?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

What is support work and how do you get into it?

Would you make a good disability support worker?

Have you ever thought about getting into disability support work? Here we answer your questions about what disability support work is and how you get into it.

What is a disability support worker?

A support worker or carer helps people with physical or intellectual disabilities in their day-to-day tasks. They have a wide range of tasks and responsibilities and their work can be very varied.

Support workers can help people with personal care such a showering, getting dressed, feeding and taking medication. They can provide practical help with transport, daily chores and making food. They can also provide vital social interaction and take clients out into the community to increase social enrichment and enjoyment.

Carers also provide much-needed emotional support to people with disabilities. They spend a lot of time with their clients, so often become like a close friend or trusted support. Support workers form strong bonds with their clients and become a crucial component in their lives.

What kind of person makes a good support worker?

The most important thing about working in care work is making sure you’ve got the right attitude. Are you passionate about helping others? If you answered yes, then you’re likely to be a great support worker.

As you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your clients, it’s important that you’re a people person and be good at building relationships. You need to be a good communicator as you may be helping your client communicate if they find it difficult themselves.

As you’re going to be working with vulnerable people and be welcomed into their homes, you must be very trustworthy. You always need to look after their health and safety and take responsibility for them.

What qualifications do you need for disability care work?

Although it’s not compulsory to have formal qualifications, some providers do need you to have a certificate III in Support Work, such as this TAFE NSW Course. It’s also a helpful way to learn more about the industry and get clear expectations about what it’s going to be like.

You also need to make sure you a police check, a first-aid certificate and a working with children check if you want to work with children. If you want to help clients by providing transport, you’ll need a reliable car and comprehensive insurance.

What extra talents could you bring to the job?

Every carer is different and brings unique perspectives to the lives of their clients. Think about what your interests are, what kind of client you want and what you’d like to share. Do you love movies? The outdoors? Could you play video games or talk sports all afternoon? Do you have any skills or hobbies that you can use to enrich the lives of your clients?

You may be spending a lot of time with your clients, so you want to be matched with people who you’re likely to get along with. You can use your skills to help your clients achieve their goals, whether it’s being more creative or learning something new.

How would being a support worker fit in with your life?

Being a support worker is a great, flexible job that is ideal for people who don’t necessarily want to work 9-5. People with disabilities need support at all hours of the day (and night!). People who are studying (especially nursing, psychology or social work) often find support work is an ideal part-time job to fit in with their course work. It is also a great, flexible role for those with a family or for people who want varied hours.

At Afea, we make sure we find you clients who are close to where you live so you won’t have to travel too far. We also do our best to find clients who you will fit with. It’s better for the clients and the support workers if everyone gets along.

Want to know more about becoming an Afea carer?

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.

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!

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?

How to live independently with dementia

Some tips to help you live at home after a dementia diagnosis

If you have recently been diagnosed with dementia, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You may wonder how much things will change and whether you’ll continue to enjoy an independent life.

While none of us knows how quickly the disease will develop, a diagnosis doesn’t mean instant dependence. Many people continue to live their life at home with a few small modifications to make things easier. Here are some things to help you live independently for as long as possible.

Make the house as safe as possible

It’s important to prepare your home and make it as safe as possible. Remove any potential trip hazards like throw rugs and power cords on the ground. Try to remove excess furniture so it’s not too cluttered and get rid of any appliances or clothing you’re not using.

Think about what safety mechanisms you can add such as extra railings on stairs or in the bathroom. Find out whether you can set your water heater to a maximum temperature to avoid scalding and install an automatic shut-off switch on the stove. Make sure all the smoke detectors are working and set a reminder to change their batteries every six months.

Research independence devices

Many technical devices can help you maintain independence with dementia. Simple things such as easy to read clocks and large calendars will help with keeping track of time and appointments. There are music players that have easy to use controls and there are even pill dispensers that only release at certain times.

You could also look at devices that are helpful if there’s an emergency. Motion detectors that alert a friend or family member when a person has fallen out of bed. There are also GPS trackers so you can make sure a person living with dementia can be found if they get lost when out and about.

Get organised

It can be useful to set up some organisation habits to reduce overwhelm. You could write down appointments in a diary and leave it in the same place every day next to your keys and wallet. Many people with dementia find it useful to have electronic reminders so they remember when to do certain things. If you have a phone or tablet, there are apps and games made specifically for people with dementia that you could try.

Ask for help from family and friends

If you’re keen to stay independent with dementia, you will need help from time to time. When you’re comfortable, share your diagnosis with your neighbours and ask them to be on standby if you ever need it. Make sure your family is involved in your care and keep them updated on your progress. Ask for help in setting up automatic payments so you don’t forget to pay your bills. If food is a problem, see if someone can set you up with grocery deliveries or meals on wheels.

Get some professional help

If you’re finding it difficult to manage on your own, there are ways you can get help to stay in your own home. You may be eligible for a Home Care Package. This Australian Government initiative helps older people remain living independently at home. It provides a subsidy towards personal care, help with shopping and services such as gardening and housekeeping. You may also receive subsidies for consumables and equipment to help you, such as continence pads, walking aids and other types of assistive technology.

Find out more about how Afea can help with our Home Care Packages

How we work on our mental health at work

Why improving mental health in the workplace is so important at Afea

October is Mental Health Month. It’s a month where we focus on ways to bring awareness to mental wellbeing. For us at Afea though, improving mental health is something we work on all year long. It’s a pivotal part of our workplace culture and is something we are very passionate about.

Wellbeing has always been a focus for us. We believe you can’t look after others if you aren’t looking after yourself. This is why we’ve always taken measures to promote positive mental health and self-care to employees and clients. In 2020, it’s more important than ever that we take the time to look after the mental health of our community. Here is what we do.

Our mental health self-care program

As soon as staff and carers start to work with us, we introduce our mental health self-care program. Our Culture Book has a section dedicated to self-care which includes mindfulness and some easy full-body movements called the Tibetan Rites. Our staff and carers’ health is vitally important. If everyone spends 15-20 minutes a day on themselves, they will see positive improvements in every facet of their lives.

We don’t just talk the talk; we also walk the walk. We start many of our meetings with a sentiment check to see what headspace we are all in. We often have mindfulness sessions throughout the day so everyone can reset and focus on the tasks at hand.

Our CEO Esha Oberoi is our guiding light when it comes to mindfulness and self-care. She shares her self-care routine in her blog, in Facebook Live Sessions and messages to carers and staff. Knowing that this focus on improving mental health at work comes from the very top allows us all to prioritise it in our daily lives.

We tune in

This Year’s Mental Health Month theme is Tune In. They define this on their website as:

“It means being aware of what is happening within you, and in the world around you. Being present by tuning in has been shown to help build self-awareness, help make effective choices, reduce the impact of worry, and build positive connections.”

Tuning in to each other is important for good mental health at work. At Afea, we do this both formally and informally.

We have regular check-ins with our staff and our carers. We have a culture of two-way feedback and authenticity and we encourage our staff and carers to speak up if they have any concerns. Our 1-1s with direct reports are run by the employee so they can talk about what they’ve achieved and what they want to learn. It also provides them with a safe space where they can bring up any worries or suggestions for improvement.

We have an open-door policy which encourages staff to come to us whenever they have concerns. For our remote workers, we also have a group chat that we’re all part of. It gives our Sydney and Melbourne carers and office staff an opportunity to connect and share news, stories and photos. This connection means we tune in to each other and helps improve mental health in the workplace.

We take the opportunity to highlight mental health awareness

It’s important to give people opportunities to talk about mental illness. Sometimes the best way to do this is to acknowledge various awareness days and months, like Mental Health Month and RU Ok Day. We always mark these awareness days in our calendar, no matter how busy we are.

This month, we are having a mindfulness session in the office as well as a yoga session. We are also doing a hip-hop class to help get the blood flowing and create a bonding experience for the office staff.

In September, we wore yellow for RU OK Day and used the day as an extra opportunity to check in with our colleagues, carers and clients. We also recognised World Happiness Day in May with a morning tea to remind each other that we’re a team and we are here for each other. 

How are you tuning in this Mental Health Month?  

What we learnt doing a mental health first aid course

Why mental health first aid is a crucial skill to know

You’ve probably heard of physical first aid courses and many of you may have done one. But have you heard of mental health first aid? With one in five Australians experiencing a common mental health illness each year, it’s likely to affect us all at some point, directly or indirectly. Afea recently trained a number of staff and Carers in mental health first aid so we can do our best to assist when the need arises. Here’s what we learnt.

What is mental health first aid?

Many of us have experienced a mental health problem but often friends, family and carers aren’t sure how to help. We often haven’t been taught the skills or don’t have the confidence to know what to say. Sometimes saying nothing is the worst thing of all, so we must learn more about how to help someone in a mental health crisis.

Doing a mental health first aid courses teaches you the skills to help someone you’re concerned about. Like physical first aid, it’s the support and care given until the appropriate professional help is received or the crisis is resolved.

Afea colleagues doing a mental health first aid course
Mental Health First Aid Textbook

Why did Afea and Inebura do a mental health first aid course?

This year has been a tough year for many of us and we have seen more participants with mental health conditions. NDIA recognises mental health conditions as a disability and is providing more funding for them than ever before.

At Afea, working on our mental health and our clients’ mental health is one of our key areas of priority. Which is why we provided mental health first aid training for many of our internal staff and support workers. Our independent division, Inebura, also had their Support Coordinators join the training module. Many of our Support Workers came together in Parramatta for the two-day course. It was such a popular topic that other staff couldn’t make it on site chose to do the course remotely in their spare work time.

What did we learn in the course?

We covered typical types of mental health conditions including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety problems
  • Psychosis
  • Substance use problems
  • Gambling problems
  • Eating disorders.

We then learnt first aid for specific situations such as:

  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours
  • Non-suicidal self-injury
  • Panic attacks
  • Following a traumatic event
  • Severe psychotic states
  • Severe effects from alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behaviours
Afea colleagues doing a mental health first aid course
Mental Health Training

We know from days like RU OK Day how important it is to make sure our friends, colleagues and clients are feeling ok. But if they say they are and we suspect they’re not, what do we do? At this course, we learnt what to look for if we suspect things aren’t ok. We learnt how to have difficult conversations about mental health and how to help our friend access services like a GP or a mental health counsellor.

According to Jack, one of Inebura’s Support Coordinators, this course was invaluable. “The course gave us a 360-degree view of mental health and the different types experienced. It prepared us with how to deal with a person experiencing different kinds of mental illness. It provided us with the tools and strategies to help them overcome the barriers that they’re facing during their difficult journey. Most importantly, it taught us how to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others.”

How do you find out more?

We highly recommend everyone does a mental health first aid course if they can. Find out more at https://mhfa.com.au/