Embracing our differences: The Helping Hand way
At Helping Hand, working with compassion means fostering an environment where everyone thrives, regardless of their background or identity. Both our people and the people in our care come from all walks of life, and we believe that’s what makes us so special. We talked to some of our people about how they embrace diversity and respect individuality in their roles at Helping Hand.
At Helping Hand, our staff are as diverse as the communities they serve. As well as staff born in Australia, our workforce represent 72 different countries with 59 different languages spoken across the organisation. By creating a safe and inclusive environment for the older people in our care, we allow our team to build meaningful connections with those around them. For Hariz (pictured above), Clinical Nurse at our North Adelaide care home, this means finding creative ways to connect with residents.
“We have a few clients for whom English isn’t their first language. So, our wonderful Lifestyle team made word cards to help them communicate and cut through that language barrier. In turn, I’ve picked up some Vietnamese, Polish and Italian words, which has helped broaden my language and expand my ability to communicate.”
Often, communication isn’t just about words; it’s about understanding each other on a deeper level. For Ellie, our Lifestyles & Hotel Services Assistant, this means building trust through tangible action.
“Each person is unique, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. Because we have residents with hearing impairments, we recently conducted sign language training for our team to focus on the diverse needs of our residents. That’s part of our ongoing effort to provide inclusive care.”
Creating connection through small acts
At Helping Hand, our vision for diversity is an environment where all people are respected and accepted. We want to foster a sense of belonging so residents and staff can be their authentic selves. Ellie exemplifies this ethos in the thought and care she puts into her interactions with residents.
“I always think about it this way: if that was my grandparents, how would they want to be treated? It’s all about personalising care to each resident’s unique needs. Not everyone has the same needs, so it’s important for us to be adaptive. The key is to treat everyone with kindness so that they feel comfortable and content. We want to create a happy atmosphere because, after all, we’re here to make their life the best that it can be.”
For our Home Support Worker, Josh (pictured above), it’s the little things that matter most. When faced with a problem, he’s quick on his feet to find extraordinary solutions to build moments of real connection.
“In my approach, I prioritise clear communication and patience. If a client doesn’t understand me at first, I’ll take the time to speak slower or explain things differently. It’s especially valuable when dealing with clients who have dementia and non-English speaking backgrounds. For one client, I played counting exercises in Italian, and it’s so heartwarming to see their faces light up as they connect with familiar memories. Every day, I aim for these kinds of small achievements to enhance our clients’ lives.”
Understanding the impact of inclusivity in care
Donna’s journey at Helping Hand has been one of incredible growth and potential. As our Residential Services Group Manager, she recognises the importance of celebrating the differences that make us all unique.
“From what I see from our organisation, we absolutely embrace diversity and inclusion. For example, in Whyalla, we have a high number of Nepalese staff, and it was so exciting to see when they shared a photo of all the staff at the centre dressed in traditional Nepalese garments. They had an absolute ball, sharing food, stories and laughs.”
Donna (pictured above) understands the importance of listening and understanding. She knows it’s not just about embracing cultural differences; it’s also about taking the time to comprehend what those differences mean to each person. This deeper understanding is the foundation for Helping Hand’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
This level of compassion extends not only to our staff but also to the residents in our care. Recently, Donna and her team have been looking at trauma-informed aged-care solutions for Forgotten Australians who have suffered from institutional or other out-of-home-care in the last century.
“It’s a very exciting project for us,” says Donna. “Our two Whyalla care homes are part of eight aged care homes in Australia participating in this program. We’ve been implementing new systems and processes to help us identify some of those barriers for people coming in and seeking care. By June 2024, we hope to be one of the first aged care homes in the country to achieve Specialisation Verification for Forgotten Australians.”