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How Michele found her calling helping others

Michele always knew she had a way with people.

After relocating to Australia from South Africa, Michele decided to make a change from her previous work in HR and payroll. She decided to complete a Certificate III in Individual Support.

“I kind of always knew I wanted to do something more fulfilling,” she said.

“It seemed that whatever I did, I would always run into mature aged people, and I would help them. Even at the shopping centre. I have always felt an affinity towards that.

“When I decided to study, my family said it was definitely a gift that I have, working and conversing with older people. I thought I’d give it a go and I haven’t looked back.”

It was this natural ability that has propelled Michele into a new career as a Community Support Assistant (CSA) with VMCH.

Michele works from the VMCH Regional office in Bendigo. She spends her days travelling to visit her at-home aged care and disability services clients that she provides home care for. When asked what she does for each client, she says simply, “everything.”

“I provide care mainly for mature aged clients with varying disabilities. I have clients who are blind, one who is an amputee, one who has partial paralysis. From cleaning to personal care, or running errands, I do whatever my client needs me to do.”

Michele has also found that she provides a service above and beyond doing odd jobs, including being an active listener, and providing support when needed.

“I do sometimes have to be in the role of a listener a lot. Obviously, I can’t give advice, but I can listen.

“Often mature-aged clients, they just want to talk to somebody, so sometimes I have paused my cleaning, and just listen. It’s very important because they want to feel valued.”

Michele clearly loves her job, with her passion and enthusiasm obvious. She says while it can be a challenging job sometimes, she loves knowing that she is going to see her clients that day and that whatever she does for them is going to make a difference to their lives.

She speaks about her client who is partially paralyzed, who she assisted with showering.

“It’s easy to want to rush something like personal care. Especially with a client who has specific health issues that you need to be aware of. I was aware that he was sensitive, and I made sure that I was gentle because he really needed to be taken care of.

“At the end of the shower, he thanked me for being so careful with him. It was very sweet, even though at the time it was scary because it’s a very personal thing. But instead, it affirmed that I am doing things right.

“Giving them the best quality of life that they can have, is huge. When I finish at the end of the day, and I have done the best job that I can do, I have such a feeling of euphoria. It’s indescribable, it’s wonderful, and something I’ve never had in a job.”

While Michele says there are certain aspects of her job which are difficult, including a lack of patience and understanding from the public around people with disability, and the pain of a client passing away, she says it is a job which is incredibly satisfying.

“There is no better feeling than helping someone to live a quality life, it’s just wonderful. I am just so grateful for the opportunity to work for VMCH, I have been so blessed, and I am so grateful to be in this position.”