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Podcasts and comfort food: how independent support worker Kylie finds out what works for her clients

When talking about her role as full time carer for her parents through dementia, Kylie describes it as a privilege. Continuing as guardian and advocate for them when they went into aged care, it was this experience that taught Kylie the value of a good support network. It was also a role that compelled her to continue as a volunteer support worker after her parents passed away.

Kylie first heard about Mable through a friend, whose grandparents were looking for support to remain living independently at home. Once on the platform, the release of more Home Care Packages earlier this year by the Australian government saw an increase in client enquiries. Now, she’s at her full capacity, supporting four different clients through the platform.

For Kylie, the selection process is a two-way street. When choosing who she’d like to work with, she’s careful to ensure there will be a long term relationship.

“If there is no connection there, I don’t see how it can work.”

A personal connection is vital when you consider that companionship is a huge part of her work with clients. One such client with Alzheimer’s lives in a retirement village with his wife. Although his wife is his primary carer, the social support Kylie provides – taking her client to lunch, to museums and window shopping for example – provides his wife with some much-needed respite.

Over time, Kylie has become a trusted part of their lives, providing an important constancy and reassurance for her client who has short term memory loss. Often, she spends the time with him at home, gardening together, reading the paper, or just taking walks around the village.

“I understand how frightening the world can be without someone you trust.”

These days, Kylie doesn’t only work with older clients and the support she provides is a little different depending on the family or individual’s situation. Whether she’s interacting with case managers or her clients directly to figure out how to best utilize her hours, she says it’s important to think outside of the box.  

“Domestic assistance is not just about cleaning. I work with one family where dad has MS and the child is high needs, so my role is to provide mum with a little extra help at home.”

In this case, a little extra help is two hours daily preparing the family meals. It’s one small way she can help take the pressure off to give mum the mental space to do what she needs to do in her role as carer. From a Maltese background and, in her own words, ‘born to cook’, it was a job that Kylie embraced.

“Meal time and grocery shopping is a huge part of every person’s life. Mum wanted the kids to eat healthier foods, so I was asked to introduce new recipes. Though initially we faced some resistance from the kids, I have now become part of the furniture.”

 Another client who is blind engages Kylie as part of a larger support team. In this instance, her client is well versed on what she would like support with, and Kylie’s role can include cleaning, shopping, or trips to the hairdressers or to run errands. But just as often it can be lunch or coffee together while they catch up on the latest true crime podcasts – a passion that she and her client shares. Maybe that’s why she echoes the sentiments of so many support workers on the Mable platform;

“To me, support work doesn’t feel like work because I enjoy my job so much.”

If you’re interested in engaging someone like Kylie to provide support to you or a loved one, you can search the profiles of support workers in your area today.

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