Sarah is celebrating 6 years at Fiona Stanley Hospital
Jenny Liew is a Support Coordinator for Disability Employment Services at BIZLINK in WA. Her role is to assist clients in their jobs and support them to maintain open employment, focusing on personalising the support to the client’s needs to ensure they have meaningful participation in employment.
Jenny supports Sarah Wardle, who has Down Syndrome. Sarah undertook a range of work experiences while at high school through the NDIS Customised Employment Pilot, with the support from the Ticket to Work network. She got a job at Active and was employed there for three years. A few years later, she landed a position at the newly built Fiona Stanley Hospital. This early participation in work while still at school has led to long term employment for Sarah. Six years after starting at the Fiona Stanley, Sarah is a valued employee at the Hospital. She started as an Administration Assistant and now works as a Domestic Assistant, which is a good fit for both Sarah and the employer.
“It is great for people with disability to start working early, to boost confidence as well as reduce the stigma around people with disabilities working in open employment” says Jenny.
Sarah works three days a week and Jenny provides weekly support, up to twice a week. One day a week is called ‘independence day’ to encourage problem solving and grow independence.
Jenny has supported Sarah for the last two years, including social and behavioral assistance. In addition to assisting her to navigate E learning requirements to stay up to date in her role. Jenny checks in to make sure that Sarah is meeting the employer’s expectations, assisting to increase productivity and efficiently. Other supports include identifying potential barriers in regards to her specific support needs and providing emotional guidance and counselling.
“Sarah is great at her job! She sometimes requires support when there are changes at work, my role is to help her understand the change and why it is being made and adapt to the new environment” says Jenny.
Changes are especially challenging during a year of a global pandemic. Sarah has returned to work after the lockdown.
During lockdown Sarah kept busy, using creativity to express herself. “Sarah loves drawing so during lockdown she drew cards for the colleagues at the hospital” says Jenny.
During the time Jenny has worked with Sarah, she has seen her progress towards increased independence. “Sarah is very proud of her job. She gets along well with the staff, who she has become friends with. She has grown her emotional intelligence, including problem solving ability and her ability to deal with stress and pressure.”
“It is not about the disability, it is about the individual’s ability, and what that person can give to the workplace” says Jenny.
Jenny supports two other young people with Down Syndrome in the Fiona Stanley Hospital in similar roles in addition to other clients with intellectual disabilities at other hospitals.
Sarah loves her job and the employer values having her as a long term employee, so it is a win for all involved.