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3 reasons Clare loves being a physiotherapist with Feros Care

Clare Connolly has been a full-time physiotherapist with Feros Care for eight years, but her history with the company goes back to 2003.

“I was working as a private practitioner in Bangalow and we had a contract with Feros Care’s Bangalow residential village,” says Clare. “It got to a point where I was getting so many referrals from Feros Care that I said to them, ‘It sounds like you need another physio.’ And they said yes!”

Clare now splits her time between working in the community and in Feros’s Virtual Social Centre (VSC). We sat down with Clare to find out what she loves most about her job.

1. No two days are the same

When we asked Clare whether she prefers working with clients in person or online, she couldn’t pick a favourite.

“It’s the variety of work that I enjoy,” she explains. “I’m not in one spot all the time. As a community-based physio working with people in their homes, I can deliver a lot more because I really get an understanding of what’s going on in their lives. I can see what their daily challenges are and give them tailored exercises to enhance their quality of life.”

Many of Clare’s clients have chronic conditions she’s been helping them manage for a number of years. “I’ve been working with one lady in Mullumbimby for seven years,” she says. “She has a spinal cord issue and she’s in a wheelchair, so I assist her to stay independent at home. It’s a joy to spend time with her every week.”

Another one of her clients has always been a keen swimmer, but back problems and falls caused her to lose her confidence in the water. “She’s 92 and we’ve just gotten her back into the pool,” says Clare. “It’s so lovely seeing her go back to what she really loves doing.”

Clare is just as passionate about the virtual classes she delivers in the VSC. “I do a lot of different sessions, including core and pelvic floor, stability and balance, and flexibility and posture. The core and pelvic floor sessions are predominantly seated so anyone can do them.”

While it’s easy to assume that connecting with her clients is more challenging online than in person, Clare says this isn’t the case at all. “I see the same people regularly and get to know them well,” she says. “I have people from all over the country attending my online classes and they love it because it removes many of the barriers to exercise. Transportation can be a real issue and sometimes people feel embarrassed when others are looking at them. In an online class, people can’t really see what you’re doing.”

Clare also loves that she can conduct virtual classes from the comfort of her home – or even from overseas! “I took my kids to Malaysia for a week and I did the VSC classes from my hotel room,” she says. “My clients loved looking out the window at the beautiful view.”

2. Her impact goes far beyond physiotherapy

Beyond helping her clients improve their health and mobility, Clare also has a huge impact on their mental wellbeing. “Sometimes it’s the little things,” she explains. “A client might say, ‘You make me laugh’ or ‘You make me smile.’ That’s not the main purpose of my visit, but those little things can make a real difference. I look at each person as a whole, not as a person with XYZ problems.”

One of her clients has Parkinson’s disease, which is extremely challenging both physically and emotionally. “We’d been working together on the physical side of things, but I noticed he was a keen chess player because he had three chess boards set up around his house,” says Clare. “He told me he hadn’t played since his diagnosis, so now we end each session with a game of chess. I’m a really bad chess player, but it doesn’t matter. It’s part of the big-picture view of working on his mind and body.

“If you’re working in someone’s home, you can tap into those things. In a private practice physio interview, I’d never ask, ‘Oh, do you like chess?’ But when you’re in their home, you get to interact with their interests, their pets and their loved ones. It gives you the opportunity to have a bigger impact than just as a physio.”

When she’s conducting VSC classes, she starts each session with a catch-up chat. “All sorts of things come up,” she explains. “People share things that have happened in their lives, and if I haven’t seen someone in a while, I ask how they’re going. It’s just as important as doing the exercises because it makes the sessions engaging and fun.”

Watching the deep connections that sometimes form between VSC members also brings Clare joy. “One lady in WA and one in New South Wales who became friends through my classes met face to face in WA,” she says. “It was so lovely to see!”

3. Feros Care is an incredibly supportive employer

When Clare was faced with family challenges over the course of a few years, her team had her back every step of the way.

“Feros Care is a very supportive employer and very understanding of the fact that we have other things going on in our lives that are important too,” she says. “I’ve been incredibly well-supported by my manager and team through my family challenges.

“I’ve always been a hard worker and I always strive to do my best, but when I’ve had to say, ‘I just can’t be here for two weeks,’ they’ve been so supportive and encouraging. They’ve told me to take as much time as I need and checked in with me regularly. It’s a good working relationship where they know I’ll always do the best I can.”

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