A role for everyone

Written by Patrick Lloyd

Pass the word around – there is a role for anyone who wants one in the disability and community care sector.

Just last week carecareers was sent a role from one of our organisations looking for a website manager:

“This role exists to implement creative solutions to address the strategic web and digital communication plans of the organisation, benefiting a range of internal and external stakeholders and audiences.”

A website manager in the disability sector?  How remote is this position from the frontline support ‘florence nightingales’ that the sector is predominately associated with.

Many organisations have grown from their early days, where a couple of volunteers banded together with the common purpose of supporting a particular group in need. They are often now larger organisations that require a board of directors, a chief executive officer, a chief financial officer (CFO), a group of specialised management professionals, a human resources team, an administration team and an information technology team.

And don’t forget the sales, marketing, fundraising, public relations and digital communications professionals that work to promote an organisation and to appeal for donations and funding. All of these roles require skills and qualifications that bear no resemblance to a Certificate III in Disability and they are necessary to provide the back up and support to the coal face of frontline support workers and frontline professionals.

Delve even further into the teams mentioned above and they reveal some interesting roles:

The IT job family is vast.  It stretches from basic user support on our computer software to advanced specialist knowledge around networks and specific products. Help desk support, network manager and infrastructure manager are just a few of the many job titles.

The CFO oversees the financial controller, the accountant and bookkeeper who all have a huge responsibility in managing funds within an organisation, made even more important with the focus on accurate financial management within the disability and community care sector.

The administration team may need an office manager, a personal assistants and or an administration officer to oversee the day to day and varied duties, which can include database use, service coordination, appointment scheduling, phone calls, reception duties and managing office supplies.

The human resources team is headed up by the human resources director who will likely be part of the senior leadership team and will contribute to the setting and implementation of organisational strategy. The director will also oversee those responsible for managing and implementing the policies, processes and strategy in relation to human resources and staffing.

These office based roles are just  a few of the roles that are available in the sector. If we look at other areas such as in-home support we find a number of roles that will surprise many outside the sector.

The catering assistant that helps with the preparation of food for a client will probably be cooking up a storm based on the guidance of a dietician. The gardener/grounds maintenance person will also look after or help a client to look after their garden, and the licenced tradesperson looks after everything from changing  light bulbs to installing ramps, handrails, bathroom and kitchen modifications, and any other needs identified by the occupational therapists; all of which help the client to continue to stay at home.

While at home the client may have visits from a physiotherapist or a podiatrist or they may use the services of a community driver to get them out and about to their various appointments, or to visit their employment development officer or open employment consultant who will help support them in entering the workforce.

The variety of roles available in the sector is huge and I haven’t even mentioned the psychologists, social workers, counsellors, speech pathologists and finally the assistants in nursing and the registered nurses.

I am sure that I have missed some roles but when you are next having a conversation with a mate, who says that they would love to enter the sector but don’t think frontline support is for them, point them in the direction of the larger not-for-profits who will surely have something that suits them.

Who knows – while working in another role, they may get exposed to the benefits and rewards experienced by frontline support staff and they may then decide it is for them after all.


My year of challenges

Written by poppymalone

Well, the thousands of squats, lunges, push ups and walking expeditions may have paid off for the killer 7 day trek up Mt Fansipan, in what was some of the worst conditions they had had in months (including torrential rain and thick fog), however nothing could have prepared me for what I was to experience at the Thuy An Disability Centre, which is 1.5 hours out of Hanoi in Vietnam…but I guess that’s why they call it the Vietnam Challenge!

Take a look at some of my photos from the trek and our visit to the Centre.

I signed up for the fundraising Challenge in late 2009 thinking I had a year to physically prepare my body for the intense mountain climb, and that the second half of the Challenge – volunteering at a disability centre in a remote village – would be a breeze, considering I work in the disability sector and have hands on experience with people who have all levels of disabilities.

From the time I arrived at the Thuy An Disability Centre I was continuously flooded with emotions. My heart was drawn immediately to the children who had the more severe disabilities. One child in particular stole my heart, Leanne, who is just one of over 100 children who live permanently at the Centre.

Through the beautiful smiles and laughter were innocent children who wanted to learn, be challenged, be hugged, be loved, and cared for. No doubt the carers at the Centre were doing a marvellous job, however they are grossly under-staffed, and ashamedly under-resourced.

Myself and the 10 other volunteers that participated in the Challenge (and raised money to get there) spent most of our days teaching the Centre’s staff about new therapeutic exercises that could be used for the children with physical disabilities. Unfortunately for these children, their day only comprises of meal times and physical therapy – no means of education, not even drawing, colouring-in, painting, or playing with toys. This is probably what devastated me the most.

We did our best to share the knowledge we have, and we have plans to send over some new equipment, but what we wish we could really send is love, hugs, time to laugh and play, and adequate levels of staffing. I guess it just reflected how wonderful my job is and I can’t wait to go back over again sometime soon.

Since I’ve been back in Australia, 2011 has kicked off to a flying start; planning programs, organising outings for our clients, my university enrolment, blogging for carecareers.com.au, and even the opportunity to be involved in some upcoming media events for the carecareers campaign.

It’s going to be a pretty exciting year, with different goals and a different focus in my role at Cerebral Palsy Alliance. I will soon be a trained Life Needs Link Worker which will mean that, after an intense training course, I will begin looking at each client’s life with a more holistic, proactive and lifespan approach. My career always manages to keep me on my toes, allowing me to experience new and exciting challenges. :)