Afea News Archives - Afea Care Services

Afea ranked one of Australia’s Best Places to Work

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve been recognised as one of Australia and New Zealand’s Best Places to Work! We’re ranked 3rd in the annual list, published in the Australian Financial Review BOSS Magazine.

This is an enormous achievement for Afea. There were over 700 organisations considered and they chose us after doing an assessment, including a staff survey and a written submission.

In a year when many workplaces cut staff and saw reduced morale, we soared. Not only did we increase our staff, we added a new office in Parramatta and we found alternative ways to connect and grow.

Why is Afea a great place to work?

Officially, we received an AFR Boss Best Places to Work award because of our Anniversary Bonus scheme. In this scheme, we award our employees a bonus on each work anniversary so that they feel increasingly valued for their time.

We love that we received the award for this scheme, as it’s a wonderful way to give back to our employees. However, there are lots of other reasons Afea is the best place to work.

AFR Best Places to Work
Afea is one of Australian Financial Review BOSS Best Places to Work

1. We make a difference

Our number one goal is to be the most trusted care provider. Every day, we come to work with this in mind. Whether we care for one of our amazing clients or provide support from the office, we are always trying to make a difference.

There is nothing better than speaking to a client and finding out what goals they’ve achieved, thanks in part to the support of our carers and staff.

2. We promote positive mental health

We know we can’t take care of others until we are taking care of ourselves. At Afea, we have a huge emphasis on working on our mental health. We have free meditation sessions for both staff and carers, an open culture and regular catch ups so we can bring up any issues we’re having.

We’ve even done a mental health first aid course to give us the skills to help our family, friends, colleagues and clients.

3. We celebrate our differences

We think it’s important to learn more about each other and celebrate what makes us all special. Afea is an incredibly diverse workplace, and we like to celebrate that. Whether it’s through Harmony Week or various cultural celebrations, we love finding out how our differences can help us learn more about each other.

Everyone who works at Afea already thinks it’s the best place to work.

But it’s wonderful that it’s now official 😊

Would you like to learn more about working at Afea? Join us!  

Why Afea loves Harmony Week

How we can help make sure everyone belongs

You’ve probably heard of Harmony Day, but did you know it’s now celebrated over a full week in Australia? Harmony Week runs from 15th to 21st March 2021 and includes United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is 21st March.

Harmony Week is so important to us at Afea. 45% of Australians were born overseas or have a parent who was. At Afea, many of us come from different cultural backgrounds and we’re so proud of this diversity. We love any reason to celebrate it and break down cultural barriers. Here’s why we love Harmony Week.

Happy diverse team harmony

What Harmony Week means to us

When it comes to diversity, we talk the talk – literally. We speak 40+ languages at Afea and support clients from a wide range of cultures. If a client wants a carer who speaks their language or comes from a similar cultural background to them, we do our best to accommodate that request.

We think the melting pot of diversity makes our company unique. No matter what cultural background you’re from, Afea will always be home. We encourage each other to share more about our backgrounds and try to learn from our differences.

How we’re celebrating Harmony Week

At Afea, we always take time out for Harmony Week. Each year we host a potluck in our office where we share a meal from our backgrounds. Food is such a powerful way to get people together – it’s a way for us to share what the meal means to us and why it’s special. This year will be no different. We will host a COVID-safe potluck and look forward to coming together as a team.

What we’re hoping to achieve this Harmony Week

Sharing a delicious meal is a symbol of what we hope we can achieve from Harmony Week. We come together as equals in Afea but unfortunately, it’s not that way in all communities in Australia. There are many racial inequalities we see every day, including discrimination and unequal access to health and education.

So what can we do? Many of these problems are huge systemic issues that require government support. As individuals, it’s understandable if you feel powerless. But by educating ourselves on each other’s cultures, not discriminating based on difference and teaching our children to do the same, we can create a society that belongs to all.

Here are some things you can do this Harmony Week:

Ask questions

The first step is to learn more about the other cultures around us. When we understand where people come from, it will help us build better relationships.

Start with a friend, neighbour, or colleague who comes from a different culture. Strike up a conversation about their background, ask where they come from and how their family came to Australia.

Learning about different cultures helps grow connections and can help us all learn about the unique perspectives that make up our great country.

Share your story

If you haven’t shared where you come from with many people, this is the perfect time to do it. You could share on a social media platform like Facebook or Instagram and download one of the social media banners on the Harmony Day website. You never know, the story of your family could be the catalyst for changing someone’s opinion about difference.

Or you could invite some friends around for a COVID-safe meal where you share your food and some of your favourite aspects of your culture.

Learn more about your culture

If you’ve grown up in Australia but have family from overseas, this could be a great time to learn more about where you’re from. Have a chat to your family or even see if you can get in touch with relatives overseas. Being proud of where we’ve come from and sharing that with others is an important part of Harmony Week.

Learn more about the cultures that make up Australia

A great way to learn about other cultures is to watch films and TV shows in other languages. There’s never been more access to foreign language films, from SBS and NITV with their huge range, to Netflix and even your local library.

Take the time to learn about Australia’s first people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been here for tens of thousands of years and have a rich culture and great ability to tell stories. Listen to their stories and learn about their culture both past and present

Talk about Harmony Week with your kids

If you have children, they’re probably learning about Harmony Week at school or childcare. However, you could spark further debate at home by discussing why it’s important for everyone to belong and why racism is wrong.

You could even encourage them to enter this Harmony Day Poster competition which is open to all school students in NSW and ACT.

From everyone at Afea, we wish you a Happy Harmony Week! If you’d like to learn more about what languages and cultures our carers represent, please get in touch with us.

Group of people with hearts on their faces

Afea has opened an office in Parramatta!

Afea has opened an office in Parramatta!

Why we’ve chosen Parramatta for the next stage of our journey

We have some big news. This week we opened a new Afea office in Parramatta. This is our second office in Sydney and our third overall (we are also in Chatswood and Melbourne).

We are so excited to be expanding our Afea and Inebura teams into Western Sydney so we can be closer to many of our clients and carers.

Parramatta – where it all began

Did you know our very first office was in Parramatta? Esha started Afea 13-years-ago. She was a sole trader who used to contract to hospitals around Sydney. Her next step was hiring other carers and driving them to and from services.

In her first year, she took out a space in a GP’s practice in Parramatta. It didn’t take long before the doctor became frustrated as his waiting room was full of our carers and clients rather than his own patients!

So. we opened up our own Afea office, and since then we’ve grown from strength to strength.

Our growth journey

We have experienced remarkable growth in the past 13 years. We’ve survived industry reforms that resulted in immediate losses in business. During this time many providers did not survive the reforms. Even in the past year, when roughly 2,000 providers had to close their doors, we have experienced 40% growth and are impacting more people than ever.

We now have over 70 staff in the office and over 800 carers across Sydney and Melbourne.

This week, we opened our Parramatta Hub so our West Team can be more connected to our Western Sydney community.

Why Parramatta?

We have opened a Parramatta hub because many of our carers and clients live around the area. We’re so excited for our Carers to regularly visit our office so we can further strengthen our relationship. They will be able to participate in training sessions and team building days without travelling across Sydney.

We also love the area of Parramatta. It is in a multicultural and loving community which is something we care deeply about. Many of our clients are also based Western Sydney, so we’re looking forward to connecting with them more regularly.

A meaningful milestone

Our Vision is to be the most trusted care provider. As we grow and we see the positive changes in the lives of our clients and their families, and our Carers who look after them, we can see this happen before our eyes.

Our Parramatta Hub has an accessible entertainment space, and we would love for you to drop in for a coffee and chat with us any time!

Ground Floor 17-21 Macquarie Street Parramatta

Why we all need to take action to prevent hearing loss

What causes hearing loss, and how can you prevent it?

Today, 3rd March 2021 is the World Health Organisation’s World Hearing Day. Almost 4 million Australians have some form of hearing loss and this number is increasing as our population ages.

Not only that, but many Australians are living with unidentified hearing loss which can affect communication in all areas of life. It’s important that you check your hearing so you can help prevent further hearing loss.

This year’s theme is Hearing Care for ALL! Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate. We all need to be more aware of how to prevent hearing loss and what to do when you suspect you aren’t hearing like you used to. 

What can cause hearing loss?

There are many reasons for hearing loss. The major cause is ageing – nearly everyone experiences some sort of deteriorating hearing as they get older.

Other reasons for hearing loss include:

  • a head injury
  • chronic ear infections
  • years of exposure to loud noises
  • exposure to certain chemicals such as those that treat neonatal infections, malaria, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and cancers
  • listening to very loud music with headphones
  • excess fluid in the ear (this is a common cause of hearing loss in children)
  • infectious diseases including meningitis, measles and mumps
  • a foreign body in the ear canal such as wax

How do you prevent hearing loss?

Most types of hearing loss are permanent, so it’s important to preserve the hearing you have left. There are many other ways you can prevent additional hearing loss.

The number one way is to prevent damage to your ears from loud noises. This could be from wearing earplugs or protective equipment such as earmuffs if you work in a noisy workplace.

If you’re going to a loud live music event, consider wearing ear plugs and take frequent breaks.

Don’t listen to music or TV at over 60% of the volume. You should easily be able to talk to someone two metres away from you when you’ve got music or TV playing.

If you listen to music through headphones, only use them for an hour at a time and then have a break.

Don’t put foreign bodies in your ear like cotton buds, oils, sticks or any other home remedies.

Don’t swim or wash in dirty water to prevent infections.

Make sure your child’s immunisations are up to date so they don’t get diseases that cause hearing loss such as measles and mumps.

What are some signs that you’re experiencing hearing loss?

It may be hard to identify when you’re in the early stages of hearing loss.

Some signs include having trouble understanding people and having to ask them to repeat themselves. You may often think people are mumbling when they talk.

Another sign might also be if you often miss the phone or doorbell ringing and if you need the TV up louder than other people.

What should you do if you think you’re experiencing hearing loss?

The WHO has a screening app called HearWHO where you can check your hearing from time to time. This is important for people at high risk of hearing loss, including those who often listen to loud music, work in noisy places, use medicines that are harmful to hearing, or are above 60 years old.

It’s important that you monitor your hearing and get it checked by a doctor if you have any concerns.

For more information about hearing loss, visit:

Health Direct
The World Health Organisation
The Hearing Services Program


Want to talk to us about supports you can receive? Contact us today

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?

Esha’s interview on ABC Radio

Founder and CEO of Afea, Esha Oberoi spoke with Nas Campanella on ABC Radio Sydney about the workforce challenges in the support work industry.

After a string of unrewarding jobs that lasted no more than 6 months, Esha Oberoi fell into support work in her early 20s. As Esha puts it, she walked in and had a pulse, therefore was hired. Only on-the-job training, and not much in the way of background checks.

Esha felt a deep connection with her clients, noticing they were feeling the same isolation she had felt through her teenage years due to her depression and anxiety. That’s when she decided to do something about it.

Nas Campanella, Esha Oberoi, Kaitlin Mountain and Jo Berry at ABC studios

Founding a business at 24

Noticing that many of her clients didn’t need full-time care, Esha decided that she would attempt to redefine what care meant, and how it was delivered.

This started not in residential care, but in the home. By educating families to the benefits of home care, Esha was able to keep people in their homes, with their families for longer. All they need is a skilled support worker with whom they have a connection.

Shifting industry standards for support work

The pattern of the industry has always been to hire a support worker, and send them to clients. Esha knew that this wasn’t going to be helpful for anyone, so she decided early on that she would invest heavily in training, and upskilling.

Today our support workers (Afea Carers) have an induction, on-the-job training with their clients, and regular on-site check-ins from our Care Managers.

Challenges with finding support workers

The industry has seen many changes since the role out of the NDIS, which has seen many providers pop up, and a shortage of support workers. Esha wants the community to know about how rewarding this industry is, and how many opportunities can come from it.

She spoke with ABC’s disability affairs reporter Nas Campanella about these challenges, and how we fix it – by telling our stories!


Click here to listen now!

Selfie of Esha, Kaitlin and Jo with headphones on in ABC radio studio

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

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.