This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress, with the World Economic Forum’s global gender gap report showing that gender parity is 200 years away.
Women are certainly not under-represented in the aged care and disability support sectors. The latest National Aged Care Workforce Census revealed that women make up 87 per cent of this workforce. The disability workforce is 70 per cent female but the proportion of male workers in both sectors is slowly growing.
Women working as independent support workers through Better Caring say it offers the chance to provide the kind of care they would want for their own families, as well as a touch of their own individuality.
Helping a client manage anxiety
Susan Stead has worked in aged care for 15 years. She works as a personal carer and social support services for clients between Coolangatta and Mermaid Beach in Queensland. Susan wanted to share a special experience she had with a client last year, who suffers anxiety and mood swings and was having an anxiety attack. She asked the client to lie down and then played some music from a meditation app. This helped the client considerably who said she felt more calm and centred. Leigh showed her client how to install and use the app and says, “I felt very happy that I could make a positive difference for her.” Leigh often talks to her clients about the benefits of meditation and essential oils, which can boost confidence, improve alertness and have a soothing effect.
Providing support while chasing her passion
Leigh Walters, who is based on the Central Coast, says that Better Caring is a really good option for women from all walks of life to earn and save money. Leigh is putting herself through a degree in podiatry.
Leigh says one of her clients with an intellectual disability loves to go to the pool or visit Bunnings over weekends, “If you work with clients long enough, you see what their preferences are. And he can definitely make decisions for himself.” She has a good rapport with her client’s family and is able to fit work in around her studies. “It’s so flexible,” says Leigh, “If his family needs me for eight hours on a Sunday, we can do that. And if I need to study and can only spare three hours, we work that out too.”
Bringing colour to care work
Dr Jay Gott has had an eclectic career working with people in aged care, mental health, homelessness, rehabilitation, nursing and disability. She’s also been drawing all her life and has worked as a full-time caricature artist for 11 years. “I love to work with people,” says Jay, “I love knowing all about them. Whenever I get off the bus I feel as if I have made a new friend.”
As a support worker, Jay combines her social support and domestic assistant role with artistic ventures, often involving clients in art therapy, or simply bringing delight by drawing their caricatures. Jay loves humour and finds that caricaturing and cartooning is an effective way to engage and involve people in activity. Jay is available for work in Parramatta and surrounds, as well as Umina Beach and Woy Woy.