Community inclusion brings rewards

TAKING a person-centered approach and focusing on community inclusion, is enabling Mercy Connect to make a real, positive change in people’s lives.

Manager of Community Inclusion and Lifestyle Support, Jennifer Peers said it was important for people with a disability to be given the opportunity to be active members of their community.

“Everything we do in our service delivery is person-centred; helping people get out in the community and being involved in activities.” she said.

“It’s very important people are given the opportunity to be part of their community and be accepted.

“It fulfils their rights as a human being.

“We are committed to empowering people to have respect, dignity, and choice, to be able to make their own decisions that matter in their lives’’

The Mercy Connect operates Catherine’s Corner, The Learning Centre and St John’s work crew which have traditionally run day programs.

Mrs Peers said while day programs had been a useful tool for educating people and giving them a creative outlet, the company’s focus was changing to better meet the needs of individuals with Employment and Training programs.

As such, the numbers of activities and programs outside the centres have been increased allowing people with a disability to take part in the community in new ways.

She said to cater for the change in community access there had also been increases in staff numbers and staff to client ratios.

“It’s been terrific, people are now able to take part in all sorts of activities,’’ she said.

“We regularly organise nature walks, historical tours, art tours and even simple things like going fishing and out for a coffee. There is weekly hospitality, art and horticultural classes held at the different centres and associated training at TAFE.”

“There is also greater access to exercises and getting people out in the fresh air is really beneficial”

One of the Mercy Connect clients who has benefited from the changes is Kevin Post.

With the assistance of Mercy Connect carers he has recently been able to go swimming for the first time.

Smiles and a big thumbs-up were the order of the day when he first took to the water at the Waves facility in Wodonga.

Mrs Peers said it was wonderful to see the way Mr Post was able to interact with his carers to enjoy an experience that was so new to him.

Another Mercy Connect client, Wayne Hancock has also benefitted from having greater access to the community and now enjoys regular therapeutic sessions in the pool.

Support worker Heidi Leatham said swimming had been an enjoyable and positive experience for Mr Hancock.

“It really helps him do exercises which he is not able to do outside of the pool,’’ she said.

“And it’s terrific to see him gain such confidence in the water where balance is not an issue for him.

“He loves going swimming and always thanks us so much.

“It’s really heartfelt and you can tell he just loves getting in the water.’’

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