Uncategorized Archives - Afea Care Services

Our very own Afean Paralympian – Wayne

One of the highlights of the past few months of lockdown has been watching the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games. It was amazing to see these athletes work so hard to represent Australia.  

We recently discovered that we have a Paralympic champion in our ranks! One of our clients, Wayne Maher, represented Australia in the Kick ball in the Seoul Paralympics in 1988.

Memories of the 1988 Paralympics

The 1988 Paralympic Games were significant as they were considered the first Games of the modern Paralympic era. According to the first President of the International Paralympic Committee Dr Bob Steadward: “The 1988 Seoul Paralympics dramatically demonstrated the effects of proper organisation and the shift from sport as rehabilitation to sport as recreation to elite sport.”

 Wayne represented Australia in Slalom, Kick ball and Wheelchair racing.

“Cerebral Palsy Alliance ran their own internal Olympics, and that’s how I got started,” he told us.

There were many challenges in preparing for the Games, particularly as it was the first. Wayne said it was an exciting moment when he found out he’d qualified.

“I was really happy, but also a little anxious. I had to do a lot of competing to qualify and I was very proud of my achievement,” he said.

His sister Lorraine remembers her brother going to the Seoul Paralympics. Although she couldn’t join him to watch, she remembers she also had lots to do to get him ready for competition.

“I had just bought a new sewing machine. You could program it to write ‘Wayne Maher – Australia’. I hit the button, and it made hundreds of labels so we could sew it on all his clothes. Everything had to be labelled,” she told us.

Wayne didn’t win any medals in the Paralympics, but he had better success in the Commonwealth Games.  

Wayne said when he was in the Paralympics, he had more movement with his legs.

“He would race in his wheelchair backwards. He’d push with his foot and go backwards,” Lorraine explained.

 Wayne also remembers enjoying his time in Seoul, particularly “when they let us out without armed guards.”

Fun with Afea Carers

Wayne lives with an acquired brain injury and communicates through a computer and joystick.

After stints in group homes, he’s been living on his own for over 20 years and he loves the independence.

“He really loves it because he’s by himself. He’s got his own things. No one is borrowing them or anything like that,” Lorraine explained.

Wayne can live on his own thanks to his carers who visit multiple times a day. While getting out and about during lockdown was obviously difficult, before the outbreak, his Afea Carers used to take him to the shops, to clubs and to the beach.

Despite his communication difficulties, Wayne’s sense of humour shines through.

“We can still have a good joke. He has a wicked sense of humour!” Lorraine said.

According to Wayne, that’s what he most likes about his Afea Carers.

“I like to joke around with them. Sometimes I call them budi (sic),” he said.

 Thanks for sharing your Paralympic memories with us Wayne!

If you’d like to know more about our disability support services, get in touch

Disability and Homelessness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please contact us to discuss further.

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

From STEPtember and beyond: How we care for our complex needs clients

This month, many of us Afeans are doing the STEPtember challenge to raise funds for people with cerebral palsy. We’re dutifully taking 10,000 steps every day for 30 days. We hope the money we raise will go towards vital support like customising a wheelchair for a child or even help fund research to better understand the genetic causes of cerebral palsy.

STEPtember for Cerebral Palsy

For many of us, supporting people through complex care needs is not something we do just in September. At Afea, we work every day to provide care and support for some of our beautiful clients who live with a variety of conditions, like cerebral palsy.

Jesse is one of these Afeans. He has worked at Afea for three years, mainly as a Care Coordinator. Here he explains what he does in his role to facilitate care for Michael, one of our clients with cerebral palsy. He explains in his words

It’s important to listen

I’ve been a Care Coordinator for Michael for a few years. During that time, I’ve built a great rapport with him and his wife Janet.

Michael is almost non-verbal, although when I listen carefully, I can understand what he is saying. I think it’s important to take the time to listen to our clients with complex needs.

I think you should always do your best to understand what they’re communicating.

The nature of Michael’s disability limits his capacity to lead a normal life. Because of that, I understand how vulnerable he is. It’s so important to find him the right supports to help him achieve his goals.

For Michael, his primary goal is to have a meaningful life with dignity. He has 24 hour supports to help him with everything from showering and daily needs, cooking and cleaning and someone there overnight to make sure he stays safe and secure.

Finding specialist carers for someone with complex care needs

For people with physical disabilities like Michael, it’s important you find the right carers. In my role as Care Coordinator, I had to make sure every person who cared for him had the right training.

They need to have completed hoist training so they can move Michael out of his bed or chair and transfer him into other rooms.

They need experience with manual handling and using a pelican belt.

We also sometimes use our Registered Nurses for training due to some specific complex care needs.

It’s also important to have Support Workers who have plenty of experience. Some people may have done some training in an aged care facility, but it’s different working in NDIS because the work is so broad, dependent on needs.

Michael was in hospital last year after having surgery on his neck. After the surgery Michael had two Support Workers with him while he was there providing personal care, feeding him and giving him social support.

An occupational therapist also trained them to massage his neck and other areas where he had difficulties, like his hips. This helped him recover better after his surgery.

An ongoing relationship with Michael

I have to admit that it’s sometimes emotional work. I‘ve built a rapport with Michael and I see what he goes through. I can only do my best to facilitate his needs to help him live a meaningful life.

Recently, Michael had an issue with his wheelchair. There were a few issues with getting a repairer before his OT assessment. So, I went over in my own time and fixed his wheelchair. He appreciated that.

I wish I could do more to help him, although I visit when I can. I’ve recently taken on a new role at Afea but lucky for me, I will still be assigned to Michael and Janet, and even have access to a company car to help me get there. I can continue being there every step of the way, as much as I can.”

If you’d like to know more about our complex care support services, get in touch

Afea’s highlights of 2020

How we have all made a difference in a tough year

It’s almost the end of the year, a time when we naturally reflect on the last 12 months. We can all agree that this year has been unlike any other. It’s been incredibly challenging for us all. However, we’ve emerged a stronger community as a result, and instead of dwelling on the challenges, we’re celebrating the positives and what we have to look forward to in 2021.

At Afea, our goal is to make a difference. We’re thrilled that despite the circumstances, we’ve been able to increase our impact and are making a difference to even more people. Here are our highlights for 2020.

We launched Inebura

In early 2020, we split Afea into two independent divisions. We now have a second division called ‘Inebura’ which has a different service offering and is more tailored around plan management and support coordination.

Inebura has also launched a custom-built portal which automates NDIS plan management and allows for real-time budgeting so providers payments are made faster and participants can continue receiving services seamlessly.

We made our biggest impact this year

Can you believe that in 2020, we had the strongest growth and made the biggest impact yet since our inception 13 years ago. We have been expanding our teams all year and we now have over 60 head office staff and 700 carers. We are supporting more families in a wider area, and started operations in Melbourne too. We received a Net Promoter Score (service rating) of above 9 out of 10 from both our Carers and Clients, which really highlights for us the difference we’re making in the community.

We opened the doors to our Supported Independent Living homes  

We converted three townhouses into Supported Independent Living homes. The property provides a safe home to our residents to live independently while still being supported by carers and a house manager. Throughout 2020, we have welcomed several new residents to these homes where they are enjoying their new  home and independent way of life..

We partnered with Enliven Housing

We recently partnered with Enliven Housing on their project The Auburn. They have developed specialist disability accommodation apartments and we will provide onsite support from our carers to a group of participants.

This is a very exciting project as they carefully designed the apartments with the latest assistive technologies to achieve Platinum level certification under a number of  a number of NDIS SDA support categories.

We expanded to Melbourne

Earlier in the year, we set up a local Melbourne division of Afea. We noticed that many vulnerable people during lockdown were facing isolation and other challenges, and wanted to provide safe, ongoing support through this time. Since the expansion, we have increased our impact and have hired our 60th local carer. We are looking forward to welcoming more people into our Melbourne family in 2021.

We increased staff and carer training

Our mission is to empower people, and one way to do this is by providing continued education to our people. We used online platforms like Zoom and in combination with socially distant in-person sessions to provide training such as COVID Awareness, Infection Control, Mental Health First Aid, Bowel Care, Catheter Care and more.

We continued to support our clients

As disability and aged care support is an essential service, we continued to support our clients in a COVID-safe manner. We did this by adopting an early Pandemic Plan to ensure the safety of our staff and clients.  

This included:

  • Increased and extra PPE
  • More processes and training for staff
  • Hiring internal registered nurses who could provide extra training for clients, particularly for those with complex needs

We increased meet and greets

At Afea, we’re always learning fresh ways to ensure we’re providing the best care. In 2020, we ramped up the meet and greets between clients and carers before services start. They give everyone an opportunity to have a chat and work out how they’re going to best work together.

We secured a second office in the heart of Parramatta

We have recently signed a lease for a new Parramatta office, which is currently in the initial stages of being refurbished and fitted for our needs. Being in a central location like Parramatta will mean that our support team will be closer to our wonderful carers and clients. We look forward to moving into our new second office in March 2021. We will continue operating from our head office in Chatswood for our North Shore and Eastern Suburbs community.

We’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to our staff, carers, and clients. We have made it through this challenging year together and we are looking forward to supporting our community in more ways in 2021.

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

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

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

What is the International Day of Friendship?

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

According to the United Nations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send your friend a card

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

Bake for your neighbours

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

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

Reconnect with someone in your past

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

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

Celebrate diversity

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


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

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