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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did you know that this week is Keep Australia Beautiful week? The Keep Australia Beautiful movement was founded in 1968 and has been working towards a sustainable and litter free Australia ever since.
Never before has it been so challenging yet so important to look after our country. There aren’t any community litter cleaning events this year due to COVID-19 so the approach is a bit different. We need to focus on how to ensure litter doesn’t reach our bushland and waterways in the first place.
For us at Afea, having a beautiful country isn’t just about cleaning up. We believe our country is also beautiful because of our actions and the way we treat each other. Here are some things we can do as individuals and families to keep Australia beautiful.
Don’t throw litter on the ground
This is an obvious one. When you’re out and about, always find a bin for your rubbish and if there isn’t a bin, take it home with you. It’s particularly important to make sure we throw out litter away as it can help stop the spread of disease. Also, make sure don’t leave your cigarette butts on the floor. Aussie smokers dispose of billions of butts each year which could end up in nature.
Try not to use single-use plastics
Before this year, we were doing well at reducing single-use items – using a Keep Cup was becoming habitual and some restaurants would even allow take-away in reusable containers. That’s all changed due to COVID-19, as these reusable containers could be too much of a hygiene risk for restaurant staff.
However, we should still be mindful of the number of single-use plastics we are using. Try to make more food from scratch and when you do get takeaway, ask for eco cutlery that is made of wood or bamboo. Or ask for no plastic cutlery at all if you’re eating your meal at home.
Recycle where you can
You can recycle your single-use coffee cups at any 7-Eleven store. They take any cup brand (plus the lids) and upcycle them into meaningful new products. According to their website, used cups have been turned into outdoor furniture, garden beds and even a road.
Your plastic take-away containers can also be recycled but make sure you rinse them before putting them in the recycling bin. Food can contaminate other clean recycling and the whole lot could end up in landfill. Not what anyone wants!
Don’t put rubbish into already full bins
Don’t you hate it when you see birds or other wildlife picking out rubbish from an overfull bin and spreading it across the grass or road? It makes a huge mess and is a leading cause of litter ending up in our environment. If your bin is full, check with your neighbours and see if you can put a bag in theirs. It’s a bit inconvenient looking for another bin but it’s better than all our waste ending up in our waterways or bushland.
Rethink the plastic you use every day
Think about the number of single-serve items you buy and whether you could buy bigger serves. For example, could you buy bigger yoghurt containers rather than single-serve pots? Could you put your child’s lunch into a sealed lunch box instead of wrapping in cling wrap? Every time we use less plastic, the environment thanks us.
Share the beauty of Australians
Sometimes, we get caught up in ourselves and don’t notice the beauty both in nature and the people around us. Next time you’re out and about, try to share the beauty of human connection. Say hello to the people you walk past and share a smile. You could even point out the lovely sunrise or comment on the weather. You could share your own beautiful nature by doing a good deed – pay it forward by buying a coffee for the person behind you or some groceries for a neighbour.
Australia is a stunning country with amazing people. It’s never been more important to keep Australia beautiful and be thankful we live in such a lovely corner of the world.
Have you ever worked in one of those jobs where you’re counting down the hours until it’s time to leave? Or where you feel stifled and unsupported by your manager? Of course you have, we all have!
Not at Afea though. We have worked hard on growing a positive and nurturing company culture. We believe having a good company culture is beneficial not just to our own happiness but to the happiness of our Clients.
“Culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off.”
Having a good company culture has always been important to us. After all, our jobs occupy most of our waking hours. We know our values and we try to make sure everyone who joins us matches up with them. We’ve even recently created a culture book which defines exactly what it’s like at Afea and what we believe in.
For us, there are three elements to having a good company culture.
1. We have a culture of empowerment
One of our core missions at Afea is empowerment. This culture of empowerment starts at the very top. It means our managers empower us to make decisions and use any mistakes as opportunities for growth. We have a culture of development, support and mentorship. We don’t feel afraid to speak our opinions and are trusted to manage our work in the best way possible.
As a result, we extend this empowering culture to our community. We help our Clients learn and grow to the best of their ability. We help rebuild confidence and improving lives day-by-day. Empowering people leads to amazing results, which inspires us to continue caring and helping.
2. We have a culture of good mental health
The mental health of our people is something we place a huge emphasis on. Recently, our CEO, Esha Oberoi ran a series of introductory meditation sessions for our Carers, explaining its benefits and how to start doing it.
We often run meditation sessions in the office and remotely for Carers. We believe we can’t truly take care of others without first taking care of ourselves. It’s this culture of prioritising our mental health that ensures our staff, Carers and Clients feel safe and nurtured.
3. We have a culture of fun!
At Afea we believe the office is a space for fun, not just for work. We jump at the chance to celebrate anything and everything we can, especially when it’s for a good cause.
In the last few months, we have celebrated:
Stress Down Day – we wore pyjamas to work to recognise the good work that Lifeline does in the community.
We were decked out in denim for Jeans for Genes Day, to raise awareness for children born with genetic diseases.
We love celebrating diversity by learning about each other’s cultures and often mark the occasions with home-cooked traditional meals.
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.
“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.
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?
Esha Oberoi, founder and CEO of Afea Care Services shares her secrets to success
One of the questions I’m most often asked is: ‘what are the secrets of success’? Did I have a lucky break? Do I come from a family of business owners? Was I given a helping hand by someone in the industry?
The answer to these is no.
Whilst it would be great to think otherwise, the reality is that it all came down to a few simple things. I nurture relationships and I work on keeping myself mentally and emotionally strong. For me, success hasn’t been quick or easy. It has been thanks to persistence and repetition.
This may not sound very trendy, but I didn’t have ‘quick wins’ in anything. In this modern world, we are used to instant gratification to get what we want. Success is the price we pay for instant gratification.
What is instant gratification?
Instant gratification is the desire to experience exactly what we want right now. It’s become all pervasive in our lives. Rather than planning and cooking a meal from scratch, we can simply order in or heat up frozen food in the microwave. Instead of waiting each week for our favourite program to come out on television, we can binge watch the whole series. We are living in a world of convenience and abundance.
Sometimes it’s great. Afterall, who doesn’t like being able to order something online and get it express shipped to your house the next day? However, all this luxury comes at a cost. We are now used to the many conveniences in life and we are losing patience, which is needed for long-term, sustainable success and happiness.
Instead of instant gratification, success is all about delayed gratification. It’s about being persistent and working hard to eventually enjoy the rewards.
Secret to success: persistence
There have been many moments when I’ve wanted to give up. Especially when growth isn’t achieved, despite the amount of effort put it. Or the market substantially shifts, and we have to pivot our whole strategy. We are all human and these events can easily destabilise us if we don’t continue to persist and repeat the basics.
A huge part of success is failure. Sometimes you need to have failures in order to learn the right path. As acclaimed American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou said:
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.
In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
This is why I believe persistence is so important in growing success. After a failure, I really question what I did wrong. I dive deeply into why I experienced failure and how I can adjust my strategy for next time. Then, dust myself off and keep going. We may have to do this many times, but eventually, we will get there. At which point, the goalposts change again so we continue to learn and grow.
Secret to success: repetition
The second thing I believe to be the secret to success is repetition. Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote in his book Outliers:
“The Story of Success that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill is to practice in the correct way for a total of 10,000 hours.”
Although there has been much debate about this, the basic idea is true – in order to enjoy success, we need to have experienced repetition. We need to be dedicated enough to put in the practise hours. Whether that’s learning a skill like playing the piano, chess or running a business.
What about you? What do you believe are the keys to success?
Work-life balance, clean eating, exercising, socialising on top of coronavirus is difficult for everyone. Unfortunately, the emotions we feel do not go away, they’re what makes us human. The good news is there are ways of dealing with them, without judgement. Here are my top 5 tips for managing mental wellbeing.
1. Accept sadness rather than suppressing it
After years of hardships, I was left suffering from depression and had to learn to embrace my emotions and heal from the pain I was carrying.
We become skilled at suppressing our emotions, believing we have recovered from negative events in our life, when often these traumas resurface if we haven’t properly acknowledged and worked on them.
Our natural response to failure, stress or rejection is denial. We deny those feelings that are negative by compensating our emotional bodies with alcohol, food, work or retail therapy and never actually make an effort to confront how we truly ‘feel’.
I was not immune to this. I took to drinking in my youth and as an adult became a workaholic – anything to distract from having to feel. I think we all have a tendency to block how we feel by seeking distractions. The thing is, these emotions actually never go away, they just build up until we start to see imbalances in our bodies, whether emotional or physical, such as sickness and stress.
It’s incredibly important that we continue to work internally on ourselves, particularly now in the midst of a global pandemic when emotions and fears are high.
For me, that means spending time alone and evaluating how I feel. Am I centred? Am I out of depth? How do I want to respond to this situation? Giving attention to our internal selves allows us to stay connected to our emotions, keeping them in check and leading to better mental health.
When we begin to acknowledge our emotions, we learn to face our ‘failures’ and recognise the lessons in each. We can start accepting our imperfect selves and begin to celebrate our evolution instead of judging and criticising our mistakes and failures.
2. Find a place of mental stillness
Have you ever rushed a decision that you later regretted? Being ‘busy’ is often worn like a badge of honour, when in fact more and more research tells us that multitasking isn’t effective and trying to do too many things at once is detrimental to our health, focus and outcomes.
Whenever I find myself feeling like I am rushing, I turn to meditation. It’s so easy to say, “I don’t have time,” but when a 5-minute meditation might lead to better decision making and less headaches down the track, it makes sense to make time.
Meditation has helped me stay in the eye of the hurricane – that place of stillness when there is constant chaos in life from rapidly growing a business and juggling a young family.
I also love meditation because it has given me space to allow all of my thoughts and emotions to surface in a safe and private place. The results come from being able to allow those aspects of ourselves to reveal themselves, giving us an opportunity to let go of them. Meditation brings the calm back into the chaos of life.
3. Reflect and journal your lessons
By writing things down, we can better reflect on what we have learnt and achieved. We often underestimate our value but can overcome these limiting thoughts through introspection and journaling. Write out all of the things you weren’t aware of before that you are aware of now.
Learn to listen to your inner dialogue and begin to re-write any negative scripts you’ve been telling yourself that are becoming your truth.
4. Make decisions using your second brain
Our second brain lies in our gut, which is why we often say ‘my gut instincts’. Use your instincts and tap into your emotions when making decisions. Seek to understand your emotions instead of blocking them out.
Even a negative emotion such as envy can give us so much insight into ourselves. Jealousy allows us to understand what our aspirations are and what we truly desire at that moment for ourselves.
Next time you find yourself feeling this way, use that insight to inspire action towards your wants or needs at the time. Then, let it go and release it, so you are not burdened by it.
5. Let go of attachments to outcomes
One of the best things I have done over the last few years is practised the art of going with the flow and letting go of any attachments to events, outcomes, achievements, people and places.
Never has this been so relevant. Coronavirus has thrown the world into chaos and brought many plans to a halt suddenly. It’s natural for us to want to be in control of our lives, but we’re all largely subject to outside influences beyond our control. Instead of fighting these with anger and fear, it’s important we learn to embrace the new directions our lives take us in.
I have deep aspirations for myself but I don’t attach to them. I visualise what I desire, but then let those thoughts drift and release any attachments. This is an incredibly powerful tool and something that is easy to practise.
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!
By Esha Oberoi, founder and CEO of Afea Care Services
Last year, one of our old Afea team members requested me to mentor him in starting his own NDIS provider service. This person was our 11th employee and he was integral in growing Afea to what it is today. He was now asking me how he can build his business. He wanted to offer the same services as us in the same market as us and he wanted my help to do it.
What did I tell him? Yes of course I would mentor him. This may sound surprising and some might even think it’s foolish. But I believe mentoring my competition can only stand to benefit both of us. Here’s why:
I believe there is enough for everyone
My belief in spirituality has taught me to live with a mindset of abundance. If we believe there is enough for everyone, we open our minds to seek more opportunities. We experience the magic of limitlessness.
With a closed mind and thinking that we live in lack, we also close our minds to further growing and progressing ourselves. This results in limiting any new opportunities too.
We all are on different paths
We live in a fast-paced world where there is a constant need to reinvent our businesses, our practices and our value to the people we serve. Even the business practices we have tried and tested will need to be further evolved.
Sharing our previous experiences to a less mature business may be useful to a newcomer. They may be able to take different learnings from our experience and use it to create a different outcome. If they take this knowledge and do something with it, it is harmless to me as we are on a different path.
Although we may technically be ‘competitors’, we all have different strengths and weaknesses. We are running our own race and the most important thing is to think about the impact we have on our own world.
I like to help
This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering my line of work, but I love being able to help others! I believe my level of compassion increases when I share my knowledge.
If a simple conversation can help save another person from burning their cash or making some other costly mistake, then I want to have that conversation. I have nothing to lose from sharing my own mistakes in the hope that it can help another person grow.
Mentoring is soulful
One of my interpretations of life’s motivation and purpose is to have fun and experience joy. Why else would I want to wake up every morning, if not for a couple of uncontrollable belly-laughs, creating heart-warming connections with others and ultimately feeling more love in my life?
Given these intentions, it makes it easy for me to make decisions around the relationships I hold with people around me. It feels so much more human to cooperate, collaborate and partner with my competition to increase our collective value towards the community.
This year we have supported a handful of smaller providers in growing their market share by helping them introduce metrics and KPIs as well as giving them useful contacts.
Despite this, we have still managed to grow and expand our footprint. Most recently, we have set up a new office in Melbourne and we’re already growing rapidly. It only proves how much abundance surrounds us and how mentoring our competition benefits all of us.
By Esha Oberoi, founder and CEO of Afea Care Services
We are heading into the end of the financial year and for all business owners and sales teams out there, with it comes a massive amount of pressure to achieve revenue targets and close opportunities. Whether they’re business or personal goals, here is how I manage my attachment to the end result.
I am heavily goals driven and love beating my own best score. My goals are pretty well defined, and almost always sit out of my comfort zone. Given the growth I expect from myself, I determine right at that the start to focus on the journey and not be deeply attached to, or disappointed with the outcome.
Because I am not caught up in attachment to the end result, I can make my goals a little harder, which allows me to keep fulfilling my potential and living up to the highest version of myself.
This isn’t always easy, however, I’ve developed some strategies along the way to help me enjoy the journey to my destination.
Having fun, being playful, and not taking things so seriously.
I like including playfulness in whatever I do. Often even my most serious meetings will start with a fun activity. It helps ease the pressure and creates the right energy to follow through on difficult tasks.
I also feel when we neglect any part of ourselves, we become resentful, so if we aren’t regularly having fun and balancing that with serious work time, we start to hate going into work.
When I meditate, I imagine attachment being like heavy bricks on my shoulders and I love visualising that I’m shrugging them off. This quick visualisation helps me manifest and attract freedom.
Freedom is such a powerful state.
It can do wonders for our mental health as well, and with any mindset shift, self-talk and visualisation are key for lifelong changes.