Home care with heart
Sharyn Skirnnikoff believes home is where the heart is and is dedicated to helping seniors age gracefully in the place they love most.
“It’s their place of safety. It’s where all their memories are, their keepsakes, their photos – of course we’re going to do absolutely everything we can to keep them there,” says the Feros Care Wellbeing Manager who ensures seniors have the support they need to remain healthy and safe in their own homes.
“I have worked in residential care and while some places are very good, home is where people feel the most comfortable. It is the biggest part of their world. If you take that away, it is often at the expense of their health and wellbeing.”
The importance of retaining independence
Sharyn says after working across both the residential and home care sectors, she has seen for herself the benefits of allowing people to retain their independence.
“It does wonders for people’s overall wellbeing and the rates of depression are far, far less,” she says.
“It’s fantastic that the government recognises this and has put funding in place to help keep people in their home.”
The government funding provides support in the way of Home Care Packages available to seniors living independently in the community. Once approved, people can choose their service provider – which is when they might meet Sharyn.
As a Wellbeing Manager, Sharyn visits seniors who are considering using Feros Care as their provider. She meets people in their homes, listens and uses her own experience and intuition to determine what they require to remain living there.
“I always ask ‘what do you want – it can be anything – just tell me exactly what you want and we’ll go from there’,” says Sharyn.
“I let them know they are in the driver’s seat. I say ‘you get to tell us what you want and we’ll create something around that’.
“Feros Care’s packages are a class above as we have holistic services that cover everything from pet care and podiatry, to companionship and cooking.
“Nothing is out of the question. We look at every person as an individual and work out what they need then match the services, or in some cases create a service, to fill that need.”
Identifying the right support
She carefully watches as people move about their home, notices if they are in pain, sees how they get up and down from a chair.
From her observations she may offer things like physiotherapy, massage or podiatry; or suggest an assessment from an occupational therapist.
“I am also skilled at reading people and noticing underlying feelings of loneliness or isolation so I can gently suggest social support, companionship or perhaps learning how to use a computer to help them stay connected,” she says.
“Feros Care has a Virtual Social Centre where you can connect to a community of people any time of the day and as the only one of its kind in Australia, this platform is a huge advantage for our clients with thousands of seniors now linked across the country.”
Clever use of technology support
Feros Care has been awarded internationally for its technical innovations and Sharyn says the clever use of technology and the way seniors are supported and encouraged to use it has a positive impact.
“I’m really big on the technical side of things and getting people on board because I’ve seen first-hand how it improves people’s lives,” she says.
“A lot of older people are scared of technology but at Feros Care we make it easy for them to embrace it through programs like Let’s Get Technical that teaches people to use digital devices. People think it’s amazing as it opens up a whole new world for them.
“That’s what I love most about my job – enabling people to stay at home while also supporting them to experience new things.”
Ongoing support from Feros Care
Once Sharyn has made her assessment and the services are in place, she pays regular visits to her clients and is always just a phone call away.
“I give all my clients my number because I have a personal relationship with them and feel a responsibility to ensure they are always happy with their services and getting exactly what they need,” she says.
“While I visit their home at least twice a year, it’s our care workers who are there weekly and they are my eyes and ears.
“Some people don’t like to make a fuss so our team knows to look out for things and report back with anything from a broken washing machine to a fall.
“We are very protective of our clients and our whole team is always on the lookout to ensure they are safe, healthy and happy.”
Sharyn says providing quality care is a team-effort and requires everyone to be on the same page and willing to go above and beyond to look after clients.
She says she has that support at Feros Care and that’s what she loves most about working there.
“Feros Care is very caring and looks after its staff and supports us 100 per cent,” says Sharyn.
“Working for Feros Care feels more like a family than a company and that trickles down to how we treat our clients. Everyone supports everyone. It’s really lovely.”
Why choose Feros Care?
For those considering choosing Feros Care as their provider, Sharyn says there is a lot to like.
“We are very transparent, we don’t hide a thing, which makes it easy for people to see exactly where their funding is being spent and where every bit of money is going,” she says.
“We are also about building a rapport with our clients and becoming more than just a care provider. We want to be seen as a friend, a confidant and someone people can trust with their best interests at heart.”