“Help [support workers] to know that they’re a part of the process, and that they can make a big difference.” Hireup disability support worker, Alax McGilvray, first met the Agostino family eight years ago and soon became part of the family. Since then, Alax has been supporting nine-year-old Domenico, including to help implement his physiotherapy plan. We caught up with Alax to find out her advice on working with Domenico’s allied health team.
Alax, can you tell us how you support Domenico with his therapy plans?
I attend physio with Domenico and Michelle (Domenico’s mum) every week. I talk with the physios, spend time learning why we’re doing a certain activity and how it benefits that part of the body. I’ve found that working with physiotherapists makes a big difference.
Domenico has been accessing physio for the last three years remotely. We do a video call with his physio, and run through his exercises. On a regular basis, we do standing frame activities, to make sure he’s weight bearing to improve his hips. We also do a lot of intentional sitting in different positions so that his lower half practices moving in a different way, and that his torso gets stronger by holding himself up.
It’s hard work but I think paediatric physios do an incredible job of making [physio] fun.
You attend therapy sessions with Domenico, it’d be great to learn more about how this works?
Michelle and I usually attend together. I’ll be on the floor assisting the physio – if they need an extra pair of hands, I’m that person. I’ve always felt as though I have the freedom to ask questions and make suggestions.
We’ve also done hydrotherapy. So Michelle and I take Domenico to the pool and I jump in the water with him. I support his upper body to make sure he’s safe in the water, while the therapist stretches with him in the water.
Did you have allied health experience prior to working with Domenico?
No, Domenico is my first turn in the world of allied health.
Why do you believe it’s important for support workers to work with a client’s allied health team?
In order to support someone in a holistic and compassionate way, it’s important to know how someone is assisted. For instance, if Michelle and his allied health team didn’t tell me how to best support Domenico while sitting, I could put him in a position that’s uncomfortable, or harmful for his body. On a safety level, these are things a support worker needs to know.
If you trust your support worker enough, it’s important to share this information with them so they can support you to the best of their ability.
What’s your advice to allied health professionals who are wanting to engage with a client’s support workers?
Ask if they want to get involved and explain the reasons behind each exercise. I think just supporting a support worker to be involved, get them engaged and help them to know that they’re a part of the process, and that they can make a big difference.
Hireup is ready to work with allied health therapists across all disciplines to support your clients to access support. Book a free consultation with the Hireup team.
Or get in touch with the team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org