The Ripple Effect
A genuine passion for their work shines through whenever you speak with a Local Area Coordinator (LAC).
They talk of being thankful for a role where they can assist people to reach their goals, honoured to be let into a person’s frustrations, challenges and aspirations, and hopeful for a more connected and supported future for those people with disability. Local Area Coordinators don’t take this position for granted, but nor do they see the support they provide as anything special or life-changing. It’s just ‘what we do’ they’ll say.
It was a recent email from Angela Sheridan, a parent of a young lady with Autism, sent to Feros Care’s ACT Service Area Manager, Helen Malcomess that struck a chord with the ACT team. Through Angela’s words of sincere thanks, the LACs were reminded that what they do makes a difference, and understood the ripple effect their simple conversations, listening and going above and beyond had on people’s lives.
In 1994 Angela gave birth to a beautiful, healthy young girl, Caitlin, who as a baby appeared to be meeting the typical developmental milestones. However, as Caitlin started to socialise more with her peers and the world around her became more complex, Angela noticed changes in her daughter’s behaviours and the way she interacted with her friends. Through many assessments, at 12, Caitlin was diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder a disorder which according to Autism Spectrum Australia is “a lifelong developmental condition that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people.”
Angela describes Caitlin as “such an incredible girl” whose goals were just like any other child her age; to leave school, get a job and live independently. Due to her difficulties with social interaction, Caitlin became socially isolated despite attending school and working in a local bakery. Angela’s wish for Caitlin, just like any mother’s, is for her child to lead a happy and fulfilling life. It was when the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was introduced in the ACT that she felt her hopes, and her daughters’ goals might be fulfilled. With the NDIS in place, Caitlin was finally able to access the supports she requires through a mix of funded and mainstream supports.
However, when Angela was recommended to make contact with the Feros Care Local Area Coordination service before Caitlin’s existing NDIS Plan was scheduled for review, she felt once again frustrated. She was daunted by the requirement to navigate yet another service, talk to more people and explain her needs once again, always unsure as to the outcome. Already feeling overwhelmed with supporting Caitlin and wanting to do what’s best for her, Angela confesses she came to Feros Care “very frustrated, bitter and miserable” from her previous experience. So when she met LAC Beth Helmers, her guard was up. But it wasn’t too far into the conversation that she realised things were about to change, and her guard came down because she felt Feros were able to provide the support she needed. This support was further enhanced by the local knowledge that Beth was able to supply.
“Beth listened and established exactly what Caitlin needed and then linked us straight into the services that would help Caitlin lead the happy and fulfilling life I have always hoped for her. Beth was responsive and offered suggestions and a range of options for what is available for Caitlin. Through Beth going above and beyond, my fears for Caitlin, mainly her not being able to live on her own disappeared as I knew there were people out there who do support and who care. As for me, I quickly started to become a happier person. Beth brought me back from a bad place as she gave me confidence that the decisions I was making were the right ones” shared Angela.
With the support of Beth and approved funding through her NDIS Plan, Caitlin is now undertaking volunteer work with the goal to have her build her skills towards paid part-time employment. She now feels pride in her home with support for home maintenance, and she enjoys being in her garden. She is also able to travel independently on public transport and is planning trips for herself to visit family and friends. Angela is delighted with this progress, “now that Caitlin is feeling confident in her self-management skills she is less reliant on her family and is taking on greater responsibility for her life.”
“It is with the support of Beth that we now have the right supports for Caitlin, and her dreams for her future are coming to life. I too have the confidence that I can best support Caitlin in whatever she needs to lead a happy and fulfilling life”.
We’re proud to be able to play what sometimes feels like a small part in helping people reach their goals. The reality is that a small ripple creates a wave of opportunity and possibilities for our clients.