Local knowledge and personal care make great support coordination in Warrnambool
With a son requiring round-the-clock care and a busy teenage daughter with autism, Warrnambool resident Grace relies on the local knowledge and advice of her Gateways Support Coordinator.
Over the past eight years, Grace says support coordinator Tania Searle, has continually found the best services and programs to meet the needs of her children, Sarah, 16, and James 17.
‘She has got all the contacts and knows what’s going on in the south west,’ Grace says.
‘She will tell me what’s happening, what she thinks will be good for the kids and will organise the booking and sort out the invoicing. It’s all very easy.’
Having someone who knows the family and understands the NDIS in her corner means Grace can focus on caring for James, who has cerebral palsy and requires 24-hour-care.
‘Tania knows us pretty well and she’s met the kids which really helps because you’ve got to know the kids and know what they like, Grace says.
This has included arranging weekly horse-riding classes, dancing and art classes for Sarah, where she loves to get her hands wet and dirty, as well as respite support for James.
Grace says Tania has also connected Sarah with a support worker from another organisation, who takes her on outings and walks, including her daily visit to McDonalds.
Tania says it is vital that support coordinators are impartial in their job and bring to the table the best services to meet the person’s NDIS goals, regardless of provider.
‘As coordinators, it’s our role to provide participants with all the options available, not just Gateways services, but whatever services are best for them, she says.
‘We have a very good reputation and word of mouth means a lot in the south west.’
Tania says that while the NDIS plan focuses on the participant, she sees her role as ensuring the whole family – mum, dad and siblings – are all doing OK.
‘They’re often considerably overwhelmed just by their caring role and the thought of working on the plan and figuring it out themselves is too much,’ she says.
‘Knowing there is someone you can call on, someone who has a whole organisation behind them to help, is reassuring.’
As experienced support coordinators, Tania and her colleagues recognise that it can be difficult for a parent or carer to always be talking about the challenges of their child’s disability.
‘They appreciate that we care and it’s not just a job. You’re not just going to get someone who ticks the required boxes and calls it a job done.’
In addition to support coordination, Gateways is an NDIS registered provider of plan management, therapy, respite and specialist disability accommodation. Call 5562 8271.
This article originally appeared in the Warrnambool Standard’s Health and Services Guide 2020.