Mary first heard about the Mable platform when she was visiting a friend in a nursing home. She saw independent support workers visiting other residents and assumed they were family members. When she discovered they were independent workers offering companionship to individuals in the home, her first thought was; “I could really enjoy that type of work”
To Mary, the opportunity to bring a little normality to someone’s life seemed like a privilege. The fact that she could combine it with her need to earn an income was an added bonus.
Having volunteered in nursing homes previously, Mary had a little experience in the industry, although her professional background was as a retail display artist and clothes maker, selling her wares at Paddington markets.
Now, she works with about 5 clients via Mable, at one stage working a full working week across a variety of clients via the platform. And she loves it.
“I am a pretty social person and I like learning about new things. People are very interesting – most people have had a hobby. It’s easier to connect with clients about a common interest if some don’t like talking about themselves.”
As an independent worker offering social support, Mary sees it has her job to find common ground between herself and the people she works with. During one conversation with a client, she discovered a shared interest in photography. At their next meeting, the client brought in some slides she had found amongst her belongings.
“Your conversations can trigger interests in people they thought were forgotten. Even if they’re not mobile, if they can still can engage in that hobby, it can make people feel like themselves.
Much of Mary’s work also involves ensuring her clients still feel connected to society. For some, that can be achieved with a simple drive. For others, it’s a visit to the local cafe where the barista knows their name.
“As people get older they still have social needs. It can be easy for families to forget that mum or dad are individuals in their own right. It’s important to make sure they don’t feel forgotten.”
Since her transition to aged care, Mary has expanded her skills with a course in dementia handling. Having previously volunteered at Lifeline and undergone training in working with mental health issues, Mary understands the nuances of working with vulnerable clients, ensuring they feel safe in her company.
This training has helped immensely, particularly in working with a regular client with early onset dementia. After initiating a number of activities; walks to the beach to watch hang gliders, trips to the art gallery, Mary was able to find connection over a shared love of music. After discovering her client’s father had been a ballroom dancer, Mary took her to ballroom dancing classes. Mostly they just watched, but it was there that Mary saw her client at her happiest.
“She really thrived on the stimulation.”
Sometimes, it’s about encouraging clients out of their comfort zone. Like the client Mary took to beginners tap dancing classes at the Sydney Dance Company. Initially reserved, as her confidence levels rose, so did her enjoyment of the experience. Or her 92 year old client who was inspired to time their walks to the local coffee shop, challenging herself with each visit to beat her personal best.
For Mary, once this connection is established, it’s important to stay committed to her client. She recognises for her clients the importance of the continuity of support she provides – and that the ability to offer this continuity is one of the benefits of providing support through Mable.
“I have one main client who was always afraid I would have to leave. I have committed to my time with her and am able to arrange other client appointments around that.”
The advice she has for aspiring independent care workers?
“You need to be kind, understanding and have empathy. But most of all you need to be a people person. But you really need to love people, and enjoy spending time with people. You become good friends.”
Interested in connecting with Mary, or someone in your local area offering support directly to clients? Click through here to start searching today.