True Stories: Sarah Delaney – learn valuable skills in community work

Sarah Delaney editedI work with the Australian Foundation for Disability (AFFORD) as the Team Leader for the Community Participation Program at Jamisontown.

The Community Participation Program gives adults living with disability the opportunity to learn valuable life skills such as cooking, shopping and using public transport, whilst also having a great time with music, art, sport and community activities. Each person in the program is encouraged to be the best they can be and to have fun while achieving their goals. Jamisontown has 20 clients and 6 staff.

I haven’t always worked in disability. When I left school I went to Business College and became a secretary, progressing after 5 years or so to the level of executive secretary in a company which manufactured metal cutting tools. While I really enjoyed the work, I was over the office politics and felt I needed to try something new.

Growing up, my grandmother had lived with us all my through my childhood and we had cared for her, and my mum spent her working life as a Registered Nurse in an aged care facility. I was familiar with the industry and I thought I’d give it a try. I began working in a nursing home and studied to gain a Certificate III in Aged Care. I’d always respected older people and I found the work there really enjoyable.

I progressed to community work in aged care, then I worked with people who had paraplegia or quadriplegia, and then I worked in respite and accommodation for children and adults. Across those years I completed a Certificate IV in Disability. 5 years ago I started with AFFORD.

I really enjoy my work; it’s rewarding and it gives me the chance to give a little back to the world and the community that I live in. Every day I am privileged to meet people who live their lives making a real effort to do their best. All of my clients have a significant disability of some kind, either physical or intellectual and in many cases both. The role that my staff and I play is to walk beside these people, offering a helping hand and providing every opportunity for them to have a great quality of life.

I’m not going to tell you that every day is a great day or that nothing ever goes wrong. Clients have days when their behavior is confronting, but even these days can be positive. Sometimes, just helping them get to the end of the day in a better mood than when they started can be a great experience.

I believe that a career in the disability or aged care sector provides wonderful opportunities to grow personally and professionally. The professional certificates I have completed have definitely been very useful in my career progression, but I really feel that the most important part of a successful career in the sector is an inherent respect for clients and their families, and a genuine desire to achieve positive outcomes for everyone you work with, be that clients or staff members.

The most important characteristics you need to have to work in any care career are patience, an open mind, a passion for the work you do, respect for your clients, an inclusive and accepting view of the world and, most importantly, a sense of humour.

Sarah Delaney

Team Leader, Community Participation Program



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