disability 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

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

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?

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

How we came to be a work family, not a work place

I started my business when I was 24 and overnight I fell into a leadership role with no real management experience. With no mentors by my side and no guidance on how it be a great coach, I learnt the hard way, making many mistakes along the way. What I was doing was following the textbooks to develop my teams, but I had freedom from reporting my performance to anyone else. 

I came into work with a really standard mindset and approach which is the textbook stuff. Staff perform – fantastic, retain them. When staff don’t perform, put them into a performance management plan. Whether it was our employment lawyers or the business textbooks, the advice did not take into consideration that we are interacting and engaging on a human level. We are so much more complex, and the black and white suggestions for driving performance are just that, too black and white with no shades. One of my realisations as the business grew and we continued to have a diverse workforce is that every person has this ‘work mask’. That mask can sometimes be thicker depending on the environment. I continued to wonder, how do I get people to relax and as much as possible and come to work in their most authentic self?

I knew that we all have the potential to be really creative and give our best only when we don’t hold layers of limitations on ourselves. I also understood that these limitations are only imposed when we feel judged.

I knew this because I have experienced having those times where I felt so judged I felt my mask becoming thicker. In those very times I felt it to be most challenging to be creative and add any value. 

What has helped me realise my potential as a leader is that I never worked long enough in any other business to know that there are subtle ‘workplace behaviours’ that everyone mutually agrees to and conforms to in the workplace. I never learnt how to differentiate between my work and personal life. There isn’t a line that I can draw between these aspects of me and overtime I have become incredibly comfortable with that.

As my comfort levels grew and I loved being myself at work so much, I loved that I would be bringing all aspects of me into the workplace. I have no baggage and constraints on how much I choose to give of myself. I wanted everyone to experience this and feel the joy that comes when we can truly be ourselves, our whole selves. All those aspects, that are playful, spontaneous, passionate and purposeful. I also came to experience that the more playful I allowed myself to be at work, the easier it was for me to retain focus when I needed it. If we give ourselves permission to allow the variety of expressions it will come through in our work, which is exactly the quality of work we need. Our work outputs also benefit from shades.

People that work in our business soon come to realise that they can be whoever they are at home, here. They can have days when they are feeling off and not be penalised. They can have times of the year when performance deflates, and they won’t be punished or performance managed. They are supported instead.

I think having the carrot and stick approach only creates fear. Fear is a great motivator in the short term. However, this is non-lasting and not sustainable. Acceptance, tolerance, compassion… all of these virtues in leadership are much more lasting ways to support our thriving workplaces and gives permission for people to bring more of themselves into work.

Disability Accommodation Vacancies!

We are looking for housemates for this recently refurbished home, perfect for NDIS participants who have low to standard needs with a diagnosed mental health disorder or intellectual disability.

Supported Independent Living, Short Term Accommodation and Medium Term Accommodation are all available in this beautiful home.

About the home

  • Secure garden
  • New fridge and TV
  • Furnished shared living spaces
  • Central location in Western Sydney
  • Garage with internal access to house
  • Accessible by bus and close to train stations
  • Active daily assistance and overnight assistance
  • Assistance from property manager 5 days a week

We will offer 24/7 support from our qualified and experienced Afea Carers to help residents maintain independence

Contact us today for more information 1300 65 11 33