Choosing a support worker can be full of surprises
Imagine if you could have access to a fully qualified doctor to be your child’s support worker. This has been the case for Melissa Rymer and her son, Marcello and their support person, Brabim Giri. Admittedly, Melissa didn’t specifically search for a doctor, nor did she expect to connect with one.
Brabim is a migrant from Nepal where he worked as a doctor however as his qualifications aren’t recognised in Australia, he had to look for other types of employment. He turned to Mable so he could satisfy his passion for helping people and Melissa and Marcello couldn’t be happier.
“I have two sons, one aged 19 and the other, aged 12 has ASD and was refusing to go to school,” Melissa explains. “Prior to using Mable, I was trying to find support workers via word of mouth. Someone mentioned Mable and I’ve found that a lot of the people on there seem to be of a reasonably high calibre.”
A simple ad introduced the family to the ideal support person
Melissa posted a Job Post on Mable in the middle of 2019 and was surprised by the quality and quantity of responses.
“Mable is a well set-up platform. Within 15 to 20 minutes, I had received lots of contacts so there was a bit of sorting through to do. We chose Brabim and Marcello has really bonded with him. Now I’ve got NDIS funding and they’re paying most of the bills so that’s one less stress.”
Marcello’s refusal to go to school has been a huge challenge for Melissa. With Brabim on board, she can rest easy knowing that her son is not only well taken care of but also has a someone who is an excellent role model.
“We are trying to expand Marcello’s interests,” Melissa says. “At the moment he is more than happy to sit and play videogames and watch YouTube all day. He does like sporty things but often says he is too tired. He’ll say ‘no’ to things before he’ll say ‘yes’ so often, we work with the ‘no’ and see if there’s some potential.”
“Brabim is very gentle with him and that’s worked very well,” Melissa continues. “That’s probably why he’s the main person Marcello wants to spend time with. And obviously Brabim has a good education so that’s a positive thing for Marcello, to be around people who can motivate him to learn to engage with the world.”
The ability to choose also extends to personality traits
Brabim’s flexibility and reliability are things Melissa and Marcello appreciate very much. “Reliability is a big factor when choosing a support worker,” she says. “I need them to be able to do what they say they’re going to do and be flexible with me as sometimes things can change without warning. For example the aim is to get Marcello to school so that might mean meeting later.”
Melissa says attitude is another big factor in who she chooses work with for Marcello. “Being open to feedback is really important,” she says. “People’s levels of maturity vary and sometimes they don’t take feedback so well. A good attitude and getting to know the person’s values is huge. On a few occasions, my son hasn’t wanted to see a worker anymore, possibly because of different values. It all comes out eventually.”
Thanks to the connection the family have made with Brabim through Mable, Marcello has been encouraged to try new things. The pair make regular trips into central Melbourne together for lunch outings, and they’ve been rock climbing, and Brabim is always offering new activities for them to try.
“At the moment, my son’s favourite thing is to play table tennis, so they’ve been doing this a lot. Brabim is also helping Marcello learn new skills and work towards greater independence.”
Melissa’s top tips on choosing a support worker
When trying to find a support worker for the first time, Melissa says getting clear on what your short, medium and long term goals are is a big priority.
“There’ll be times when you may just need someone for company and to hang out with or there might be other times when there is the potential for mentoring. I’d suggest being really clear and keep things simple. Some workers might just take them for a hamburger and that’ll be it. Try and ask questions that will unpack a bit more about what this person is capable of doing. And it’s definitely a good idea to do a face-to-face interview.”
Mable’s ever-growing network of Independent Support People across Australia is made up of a kaleidoscope of personalities, qualifications, interests, skills and cultural backgrounds. Melissa’s search didn’t require a qualified doctor and what she and Marcello gain from the connection with Brabim has little to do with medical credentials.
“I just needed a bit of respite for me and to find someone who would click with him,” she says. “The great thing about Brabim is he is also someone Marcello can learn from and look up to. If we could have him around every day of the week, I’m sure my son would be delighted.”
To get started finding and connecting with Independent Support People in your area, visit Mable.com.au