The Kira Community Services family is going to miss Sue as she retires after a lengthy career with us as a disability support worker.
Sue Chaplin-Aradagh first joined Kira Community Services as a volunteer at the end of 2000 after the passing of her husband who she had been caring for. Sue was eventually employed by Kira Community Services as a disability support worker on a full-time basis.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with her to discuss her role as a disability support worker over her 19 year career and her impending retirement.
Firstly, can you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m a mother of two and a step mother to two children. I’ve lived on my property for the past 30 years along with my dog (a Jack Russell). I have a love for gardening, especially mowing and whipper snipping. I did have an extensive range of hobbies ranging from bonsai caring and cake decorating but due to working at Kira, I placed those on the back burner.
Why did you choose to work at Kira Community Services?
I knew someone who worked in the Kira office. It was her suggestion that I come in and speak with the boss at the time about volunteering to see if it was something that would be suitable for me. From there I was taken on in a full–time role and I have been with them ever since!
What was Kira like when you joined in 2000 and what it’s like now 19 years later?
The thing that aligns with my core values and beliefs is that Kira was created by parents of people living with disability and their families. Which is what bought me to work with this great organisation for the past 19 years. The people and the organisation will always be considered as family to me.
What is the role of a disability support worker?
In my opinion, I would say that the primary role of a disability support worker is to provide assistance to individuals with physical, developmental or cognitive disabilities.
Support Workers need to be extremely compassionate, empathetic and detail-oriented people who possess strong listening and oral communication skills – these are key to being successful in this position. I would add that patience and a passion for helping people as well as being a team player are also vitally important. As well as having a sense of humour!
As a disability support worker, what is the most difficult situation you have had to face and how did you tackle it?
I haven’t faced any difficult situations with any of my clients. Rather, I have had to tackle technology which I loathe! I am not the type of person who can sit down at a desk and perform tasks like constructing an email or putting together an Excel spreadsheet. I am more of a practical, hands on person. But unfortunately, technology comes hand in hand with all jobs these days and it’s something that we cannot shy away from.
The disability field is always changing, how have you adapted to these changes within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) framework?
I would say that Kira, along with every other disability organisation that is currently adapting to the NDIS, need to do three key things: learn, engage and adapt.
What role do you think communication and interpersonal skills play in handling people with disabilities?
An interest in people and a commitment to helping others along with the ability to communicate clearly and sensitively with vulnerable people and their families is incredibly important. I would also say that a knowledge of the emotional and practical difficulties that my clients may face is important, as well as good listening skills and an empathetic approach to clients.
What is one of your fondest memories of working at Kira and what will you do now that you are retiring after 19 years?
The whole 19 years that I’ve been here have been a journey for me and it’s been the best. After caring for and losing my husband, and having been a carer to others in my family, I was lost. But when my friend suggested that I come and volunteer at Kira it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I had suddenly found a purpose and somewhere that I could put my carer skills into practice.
It truly was a joy joining the Kira family 19 years ago. I will leave here with a sense of knowing that I bought joy and fulfilment into the lives of the clients I had the privilege to work alongside and knowing that what I did added something to their lives. Also, the job suited me, and I suited the job – it was the happiest of marriages!
On another note, in retirement I will be learning how to use a computer to conquer my fears, as well as learning more about USB sticks and how they work! I will also spend time with my grandchildren, of which I am looking forward to, as well as getting back to my whipper snipping and mowing my lawns.
It has been suggested that I could come back and volunteer, but I will take my time with that. I think I’ll take a long break before I make any decisions about my future.
We are always looking for passionate and committed support workers. If you think you have what it takes to join the Kira family, please apply online.
About Nick McAllister: Nick McAllister is a Writer, Author, Autism Advocate, Blogger and Mentor who was diagnosed with Autism in his 40’s. You can read more from Nick over on his blog.