The ‘Can Do’ Policy with Rachel Tyler
At Feros Care we grow bold, not old. To help our clients live their dreams we have an initiative called a ‘Grow Bold Request.’ Residents and clients can submit a request either for an experience, something to make life easier or something that helps them overcome an obstacle. Our Virtual Wellbeing Manager/Client Advocate Rachel Tyler shares her secret to granting our residents’ requests.
“People ask for all sorts of things. If you’re creative and resourceful, you can make it happen… or at least achieve the next best thing. Never give up trying.”
Growing up in Tasmania, Rachel was inspired to pursue a career in aged care when she considered the quality of care she would like her grandfather to receive. “My grandfather was a dairy farmer, a hard worker and a loving grandfather. As he aged, it was important for him to stay at home and maintain his independence as long as he could. Unfortunately, he suffered with dementia. I thought, ‘This I what I want to do. I want to help people stay independent at home as long as possible.’”
In her early twenties, Rachel became a Carer with a focus on dementia-based care, and then progressed to become a Diversional Therapist. This involved facilitating leisure-based activities to enhance the psychological, spiritual, social, emotional and physical wellbeing of clients. “I was a Diversional Therapist for many years. I absolutely loved it – but moving to Queensland, I wanted to get back into a position in aged care where I could support a healthy work/family balance.”
In May 2016, Rachel made the move to Feros Care as a Client Experience team member, before taking on the role of Virtual Wellbeing Manager. Rachel is part of a team who coordinates and organises health and support services for our clients within their own home.
“Every day is hard work and it can be exhausting. But when I come home, I think of all the clients I’ve helped. I know I had a small part to play in changing someone’s life for the better. Just having a chat with someone can brighten their day. It is important to me that our aged clients know they are not forgotten; they are valued. They have a wealth of knowledge and many have survived wars and overcome obstacles our generation can’t even begin to imagine.”
Yet, Rachel has her own battles to weather. This year, Rachel had a large melanoma removed after two surgeries, which also removed a third of her breast. “People living in Australia need to be aware of skin melanoma as it is an aggressive cancer that spread quickly. Although the cancer in this area is gone, melanomas are popping up everywhere else. Being able to attend medical appointments before or after work on my two home days makes life easier. Feros is really supportive of their staff by enabling them to work around personal obstacles and challenges. “
Grow Bold Requests – Where the magic happens
Although there is so much going on in her personal life, Rachel says she feels happiest when making others smile. Indeed, the highlight of her role, she says, is granting ‘Grow Bold Requests.’ “When I grant a request, I feel absolutely wonderful. I always follow up to see how it went. I love seeing the photos and hearing about the experience,” she shares.
Requests can be anything from a new fridge or a walking frame to enable a client to walk their daughter down the aisle. Or it could be really out of the box – like taking a nostalgic adventure.
When we ask Rachel some of her favourite memories from the Grow Bold Request treasure box, she takes a moment to reflect.
“Recently, a client and his wife celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. We organised flowers and chocolates, balloons and a big card from Feros delivered to their surprise party. They were so grateful and happy and said it was, ‘the best party ever!’ Afterwards, they visited the office with photos and a thank you card. It meant so much to me that our simple gesture made their night so special.”
“Another Grow Bold Request that comes to mind is when we organised for a married couple we to attend the EKKA. Our client wanted to treat his wife to a fun day out – reliving their youth. The smiles on their faces when they were telling me all about their adventures was priceless. I panicked at first when I saw a photo of his wife standing inside the pen with a monsterous bull. Then I thought, ‘Why stand on the outside looking in when you can be right there in the middle of the action?’ That is what growing bold – not old, is all about!”
Rachel shares her main learnings to those considering a career in aged care and disability.
1) Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries
“If a client asks for something a bit different, I take a step back and get creative. There’s almost always something you can do, even if it may seem hard to imagine at first. People ask for all sorts of things. Be open-minded and resourceful.”
2) Ask questions to uncover what they really want.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions – some requests are hints at a greater desire or need. For example, if a client asks for a day at the beach, ask them why the beach is special. Perhaps they have memories as a child, enjoying fish and chips with their parents. Maybe you could surprise them with a beach picnic with their family! It’s important to remember that sometimes they don’t want to ask because they may not want to put anyone out or they may not feel they deserve something ‘special.’ Of course, they couldn’t be more wrong – so dig deep to ask questions and help people open up.”
3) Give it a go
“If you’re open to anything and like approaching challenges head-on, look into becoming Feros team member. Accept that you will probably make some mistakes, and that’s okay. No one is perfect and there’s no judgement. We just want you to try. Some special words from of my best friends, Sheila, comes to mind… “In order to succeed, I must first believe I can.” Sheila, who passed away in her 90s, was legally blind – yet she travelled the world multiple times by herself. Sheila couldn’t tell me what the countries looked like but she could describe the smells, the food, the culture, the environment and the people. Sometimes you need to look beyond what you see in front of you, use your imagination; anything is possible.