The staff office at Guildford is buzzing with activity as the morning routine gets underway. For 10 people Achieve is supporting at new specialist disability accommodation in Guildford, it’s about getting ready for the day ahead.
“The morning is a busy time when we are organising medications, personal care and daily routines,” says Shift Coordinator at Guildford, Elaine Zhang. “We are a close team and often I feel like the clients are like our family because we see each other every day.”
After studying to become a registered nurse in China, Elaine moved to Australia in 2013. She says even from an early age she has had a deep commitment to serving the community. “I have a passion to help people and to serve the community, I’ve always had this in me,” says Elaine.
“I trained to become a registered nurse and when you’re a nurse you see people at their most vulnerable. It’s very rewarding to help people in their recovery of illness and to see them be well again,” she says.
In Australia, Elaine began working in the community again and undertaking further studies. It was in 2019 that Elaine joined Achieve as a Social Educator to help clients improve their lifestyle and get involved in the community.
Today, Elaine works as a Shift Coordinator at Guildford to ensure a 24-hour rotating roster and smooth operations for clients and staff on site. The specialist disability accommodation at Guildford is integrated as a part of the community in a residential apartment building, providing an inclusive setting for everyone.
“We are all human no matter who we are or where we come from,” says Elaine. “We are all here to help each other and to make a difference.”
For people with disability who are supported through the NDIS, the opportunity to pursue personal goals and work closely with specialist staff can be life-changing.
“I worked with a client who had severe anxiety and very low self-esteem. She didn’t want to go out or interact with other people,” recalls Elaine. “I worked closely with her Social Worker and family to get the right supports in place to help build her confidence and develop some coping mechanisms.”
“Recently, she was able to go out and buy herself a pair of shoes and attend a birthday party with support staff. It’s all about taking those small steps in the beginning, which may seem hard at first, but they take you in the right direction,” she says.
For Elaine, each day she maintains a busy schedule with her team at Guildford who continue to provide supports to help people with disability become more independent at home and in life.
In future, Elaine wants to do more for society, potentially in the areas of policy or community development and is working towards a Bachelor of Social Work at UNSW. “I want to be an advocate for people with disability and for people who may be disadvantaged in our society.”