A program aimed at increasing and providing employment opportunities for people living with an intellectual disability in the Southern Downs is proving to be a huge success among staff, residents and participants in aged care.
Anglicare Southern Queensland is one of the first aged care providers to provide people with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to learn new skills in an inclusive workplace.
The Symes Thorpe Residential Aged Care home in Toowoomba has implemented the Inclusive Employment Program (IEP) for the past two-and-a-half-years, thanks to a grant funded by the Department of Social Services.
Anglicare Southern Queensland’s Chief People Officer Anna Zilli said the program has supported nine people to gain invaluable experience in aged care, to help them develop their skills so they can find paid employment.
“People living with an intellectual category of disability are the most underemployed cohort in our community and is why our funding is specifically targeted to this diverse group,” Ms Zilli said.
“The opportunities in a Residential Aged Care home are like that of a mini community. We have teams that work in our kitchen, laundry, library, administration, gardens, maintenance, cleaning, and lifestyle activity areas.
“This allows us to develop a very specific suite of tasks for our volunteers, tailored to their interests. It also allows for change and development of skills, so they can work in different areas.
“The program supports nine volunteers at Symes Thorpe and one permanent part-time employee. It’s exciting for Anglicare as we have been able to see new opportunities for job roles where we can support career pathways for people with disability.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are approximately 12,180 people with disability in Toowoomba, accounting for around 10 per cent of the town’s population.
The program aims to identify and address barriers to diversity and inclusion for people with disability, increase awareness of disability as a diversity and support organisations to improve accessibility, and to increase employment opportunities for people with disability.
Volunteer Erica Cuskelly attends the home twice a week and regularly helps the staff with setting up dining tables, assisting the lifestyle teams with the morning’s activities, which include paint and sip, hoy and bingo, and assisting in the laundry.
“I really enjoy volunteering at Symes Thorpe,” Erica said.
“I’ve been doing it twice a week and so far, it has been good. The people here are friendly.”
Anglicare Southern Queensland is looking to roll-out the program to its other residential aged care homes in the future.
“Symes Thorpe was the only aged care home selected for the pilot program. We are grateful to the Department of Social Services for this funding, which will help to build our organisation’s capability and capacity to scale the program more broadly,” Ms Zilli said.
Editor’s note: If you would like more information about participating in the program in Toowoomba, please contact Anglicare Symes Thorpe Inclusive Employment Coordinator Marllisa Beaver via email@example.com or on 0447 815 387.Jump to next article