Who: Donna McManus from Community Living & Respite Services.
How did you first start working in the support coordination field? Why have you stayed?
I had been working with Community Living & Respite Services as the Intake and Planning Coordinator for the past 10yrs and as the role saw me meeting with any person in our area who required supports or information on disability services available within not just our services but also within other services in our community and beyond; and about locating and applying for and allocating funding it was a no-brainer that my skills were going to be transferable to a new job title when the NDIS rolled out and Support Coordination was touted.
I have stayed for the very same reason I stayed before Support Coordination – I love it! Have I thought about going “out on my own”? – Absolutely – however I truly believe that the best work can be done in teams. Support Coordination can so often present us with persons in crisis, other service providers not providing services as we had deemed they might and sometimes difficult relationships to negotiate. All of these issues call on a “team” to bring their combined wealth of knowledge to support. I wouldn’t trade being a part of a cohesive team to be facing those challenges on my own lightly. And it helps when you are supported by an excellent organisation whom you have worked with for 20yrs!
While we are on the topic of jobs what is the most interesting job you have ever had?
The most interesting role I have had for your perspective would be my role in the “Murder Mystery Company” which saw me travel around Victoria as bookings occurred to run these comedic evenings where people paid good money to be a part of an interactive play and laugh right alongside of me at the hilarious antics – and lines – that we all got up to! I so loved that job ….
Oh! And the job where I was employed by the Star Hotel within the Port of Echuca where they had me dress up in a Chorus Girl type dress complete with boa and sent me into the tourist throng to get people into the bar and pay to investigate the antique hidden tunnel where in years gone by, during a period of prohibition, alcohol ran free – and so did the wild girls! (reportedly).
What do you like most about the Support Coordination Academy tools and why?
I call them “Support Coordination for Dummies”. I love the fact that anyone could come along and just know how to get about the “doing” of our role. I love the fact that if anyone asks me how or what or why I can simply print or send it off and say – “ta-dah!” In one word – EVIDENCE.
At SCA we think that support coordinators are key to helping participants get great outcomes. Can you describe a time where you have helped a participant get a great outcome?
I have a participant who has an ID and is a single mother who cares for young children with ID/ASD. She had previously lost other children to CPU and there were referrals in for those in her care– not due to neglect or abuse but being seen to be unable to provide the necessary supports. Since being involved it became clear that no one had made a referral to Disability Services in all that time to gain support for my participant. No services had been put in place to address and support her own ID needs.
With SC we have been able to provide supports that have:
· Now seen CPU close and they have not had another report.
· Now seen Child First close their case with all goals met and no concerns
· Identify and gain medical referrals for her own major health issues that had been left untreated
· Gain SC for the other children
· Get together a very strong care team of service providers/educators/medical professionals/allied health who all have the best interest of the family at heart and who have supported this very open, honest, caring and loving Mum to live the life she chooses while raising the children she loves with all her heart.
While far from being “Job Done” this is one case that is testament to the power that support in the positive context can bring.
Did I say I love my job? 🙂
Any tips or hints for someone starting out as a Support Coordinator?
Just be yourself. Go out there and don’t be afraid to laugh, occasionally get a little damp around the eyelids or say Hooray For You. Be prepared to have others share with you what they may never share with another soul. Make sure you acknowledge to yourself the thrill you get when someone gets to achieve something they never ever dreamed of before.
To get in touch with Donna at Community Living & Respite Services please email J firstname.lastname@example.org
(Pictured left to right are the team at Community Living & Respite : Debbie Murphy, Donna McManus, Gabrielle Dayhew & Brittany Molloy)