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Meet Sarah – Practice Lead, Disability Pathways

1. What does your role involve? 

I am responsible for supporting our Disability Pathways team to ensure services meet the highest standards for quality and safety. I provide specialist advice and guidance to our service delivery teams around practice and compliance.  

 I develop policies, processes and procedures that support best practice and are aligned with fundamental principles like quality of care, client centred care, human rights and trauma informed care. This ensures that our services align with legislation, practice standards and rules. It is essential as part of our registration with the NDIS.  

My role also plays a part in implementing Baptist Care SA’s Tapa Marnirni-apinthi Practice Framework within Disability Pathways.  

I also develop and facilitate training that creates a workplace culture that prioritises client wellbeing and supports and encourages staff to build competence in their roles.  


2. What do you enjoy most about your work? Why do you work in a disability team? 

I have found a sense of purpose in working within the disability sector. I am very passionate about it.  

I started working in child protection with Baptist Care SA, and serendipitously found myself working in disability because the two areas had common ground.  I haven’t looked back. I love it!  

Awareness and recognition of people with disability’s human rights is increasing in the public arena. Their rights to access, inclusion and equal opportunity are as important as anyone else’s. I am passionate about contributing to these rights.  

I feel like I have been able to contribute and make a difference to how we provide services for people living with disability and I hope our clients enjoy a better service as a result. 

What I enjoy most about my job is being able to come to work and explore ways to deliver services and supports that respect our clients; their wishes, feelings, needs, strengths, rights, access to and inclusion in society. I am fortunate to have a rewarding role.  


3. What do you think are the most important things about providing a good service for our clients? 

 The most important thing about providing a good service is creating opportunities to build capacity and confidence, increasing their quality of life in the way they choose and ensuring their rights are being upheld.  

We are mindful that everybody is different. We can apply principles and theories about what good practice looks like, but every individual has their supports tailored to them. We don’t impose what we think they need in their life. Rather, we are led by them. This is at the centre of providing a good service.  


4. Can you give an example of a successful client relationship you’ve had or have now? 

When I was a Support Worker in child protection, I worked in a home for about 10 months before I started a new role in the office. I stayed with three young male clients for those 10 months. Despite being one of the most challenging places to provide care, I was able to build a positive rapport with them, as one of the few female staff. It is important to provide consistent care for children and young people and I felt like I was able to do this, leading to a positive relationship. 

Another example is when I was a Placement Coordinator in Disability Care Services. I was coordinating care and staff for a client with complex needs. I built a strong, positive relationship with him and his care team. Staff rarely had sick leave, and would attend monthly care team meetings, resulting in consistent and quality care. This strong stakeholder relationship resulted in fantastic outcomes. The team were able to establish and continue with his community connection and with his day options program in a safe manner. The care team knew the client very well and were able to provide the support he needed for his particular needs. The client and the staff had a connection built on trust and respect. 


5. How do you make sure your client is satisfied with the service we provide? 

I look for daily indicators of satisfaction and improvement. For example when a client is actively involved in their own choices and has active control of decision making in their own life, this is a brilliant indicator.  

Actively engaging with their support staff is an indicator that they are happy with their services, as is engaging in daily activities. When they demonstrate a curiosity in exploring things outside the home and come back to tell you about their day, you know they’re happy with their service.  

From a daily living perspective, a happy client will sleep well, eat well, engage in personal hygiene tasks, take pride in their home etc.  

From a different perspective,  there is vulnerability in telling someone how you feel, especially when a client has experienced trauma or is in care. Statistically, people with disability have a higher percentage of incidences of abuse. Therefore, if a client  feels safe enough to disclose to us personal experiences, I consider that a satisfied client, because they trust us to respect their feelings and support them 


6. If there are challenges for our clients, what sort of initiatives can we put in place to support them? 

Depending on the challenge, the first thing to do would be to ask them what they would like to happen and how we could support them 

If they’re non-verbal, consult with their support network to talk about their challenges. Then we would explore ways to reduce that or improve the situation. We would look for the indicators from the client to ensure they are happy with what has been implemented. 

It’s always important to include the client in the discussion and in the outcomes.  

At Baptist Care SA, we focus on building relationships and social connection. We know that human beings need and require relationships and social connection. If we are supporting  someone who’s withdrawn and disengaged, I would build trust and confidence by encouraging a gradual approach to exposure to community. Initially, you could invite friends or family to visit the client’s home. When they’re more confident, encourage a phased process where they go out into community while accounting for any sensory and social needs.  


7. We pride ourselves on working alongside our clients at their pace, why do you think that’s important?  

Making assumptions about someone’s capacity based on their disability is not appropriate. Always assume that they have capacity and meet them where they’re at.  

Whether they are children, young people, adults or elderly, we support them at their pace. This builds trust and they’re more inclined to move forward and actively participate in what they want in their life. 


8. What are your interests?

I love to learn.  I feel like I’m a lifetime learner, I just love to learn and fill my brain. I have an interest in true crime and documentaries and self-improvement / development. I love the water, spending time near the beach and catching up with friends over good food and coffee.  

I love test cricket. I will sit there for 5 days, from the first ball to the last ball when the annual test comes around.  It’s the Ashes this year! 

I am close with my family and am extremely grateful for them.  


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