Not only is Chela O’Sullivan our Home Support Partner in Aged Services Home Care Packages; she’s also a Case Worker with our Assistance with Care and Housing team. Caring and down-to-earth, Chela takes both demanding yet rewarding roles in her stride, helping those who are at risk of homelessness find accommodation, and enabling older people in our community to get the support they need on their terms.
Chela joined The Benevolent Society almost 10 years ago. After taking time out from the workforce to raise her two children, she applied for a Home Support Care Worker role. Although she’d never worked in Aged Care before, Chela’s friendly personality, wealth of compassion, and can-do attitude made her a perfect fit.
“My kids would say my job was to have coffee in the park with older people – and it kind of was!” Chela laughs. “My role was to help older people live well. I’d visit them in their homes, do the vacuuming, tidy their house, take them shopping, go for a walk, have a chat. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The flexibility fit well around my family, too – I could start at 9am and finish at 2.30pm, so I could still do the school drop-offs and pick-ups.”
A natural progression
Chela adored the clients she supported as a care worker. She loved knowing she was making a positive impact in their lives and so her sights weren’t set on climbing the ladder, but her manager recognised that she had even more potential.
“I was asked to fill in for a colleague, who was the Home Support Partner at the time. At first, I said no! But my manager said I should give it a go. So, I did – and I liked it! Three years later, here I am. Everyone on the team was so supportive when I took on this role. They all took me under their wing,” she recalls.
As a Home Support Partner, Chela helps create a safe, healthy, supportive environment for older people who want to remain in their homes but need help with daily tasks. She assesses them for a Federal Government-funded Home Care Package, which offers personal care, nursing services, transport, cleaning, and home maintenance services.
“Social support is often the most important thing,” says Chela, based at Hurstville. “Sometimes, people just need a wellness call – someone to say ‘hi’ to and ask them how they’re going. It can make such a difference to their day and emotional wellbeing, especially during COVID-19. A lot of older people are spending much more time on their own with lockdowns and social distancing. It can be very isolating, so having that contact means the world to them.”
Chela also helps people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness find affordable, safe housing through the Assistance with Care and Housing Program. Her clients’ situations vary, but all are highly vulnerable. Chela helps them plan for a brighter future.
“Some of our clients have been sleeping rough and don’t have a roof over their heads. Others sleep in their cars or ‘couch surf’ because they don’t have a house of their own. Our goal is to improve their living situation by talking through their options, sorting out their housing applications, and finding them a home,” she explains.
Chela goes above and beyond for her clients, sourcing furniture and other items they may need to settle into their new living arrangements.
“When you get someone a home, it’s the best feeling,” she says. “I love it. They’re so excited and proud to have their own home, even if it’s just a small place. It makes me think, ‘Yes, this is what I do it for.’ I love seeing people who’ve struggled in the past move on with their lives and grow.”
Connection and community
Chela enjoys working in her two roles. As for what motivates her each day, Chela says it’s her clients and wonderful colleagues who have come to feel like her extended family.
“I’ve always loved having a sense of community, and I really do feel part of one now,” Chela says. “I can’t speak highly enough of my colleagues. We’ve got a great team; we stick together. I feel very supported here, and I still get to spend lots of time with my family. I’m very grateful to be here.”