Late last year, R&R Care, a disability services provider on the Mid-North Coast, joined the Ability Options community. Mathew, who worked at CHESS Connect before moving to R&R Care about a year ago, shares his thoughts and experiences of the transition to Ability Options.
My name is Mathew, and I was part of the Disability Employment team at CHESS Connect for two years as a Recruitment Partner.
In November 2021, I decided to make the jump into support services through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
I was lucky enough to be approached by a Team Leader at R&R Care asking me to apply for a Participant Support Officer (PSO) position which, at the time, I had no idea what the position was. Not knowing only made me more excited for what was to come.
I worked with R&R Care for around 12 months, working closely with participants to reach their goals in life. Soon after, the rumour mill started spooling up and we were informed that R&R Care was joining a larger service provider.
Naturally, there were a lot of anxious feelings going around, sending us into a deep dive of uncertainty, wondering how larger disability service providers operated.
Once the due diligence was completed and our then CEO Daniela Shaw was able to inform the R&R Care team that we would be joining would be Ability Options, a lot of us started checking up on what Ability Options is.
This news led to the entire team checking the Ability Options website to see what services they offered. A lot of us were doing this to essentially see what jobs would be safe.
In March 2023, we had a visit from Julia Squire – the CEO of Ability Options – where a lot of those anxious feelings were calmed, and I personally became excited about the acquisition.
Julia was very open and honest about what was to come. She explained the transition was not going to be all rainbows and sunshine; she told us there were going to be some long hours and hard work involved to merge all our service agreements over to Ability Options’ systems and learning new programs, policies, and procedures.
Although the transition seemed daunting at the time, and the fear-factor of losing the bonds we had created with our participants and their families, we soon discovered through this process we were able to create stronger bonds and incoming referrals had increased.
The face-to-face training we received from the Intake and Rostering teams – Caitlin, Beck and Chloe – really helped us feel like part of the Ability Options family.
I was able to see the potential for the new programs we were going to have access to. Systems like weConnect and Skedulo have many benefits reducing time spent on admin tasks.
Ability Options is currently working on improvements for these programs to be better utilised to their full potential. I am lucky enough to be included in service development teams for future implementation.
Ability Options has many career development pathways. This encouraged me to explore the different opportunities and where I may be able to grow both personally and professionally.
In May, I was able to secure a position as one of the Practice Managers for Direct Supports here on the Coffs Coast. With this appointment, I have been given access to additional training and even been able to attend a two-day workshop with other Practice Managers and Senior Managers from all over the state to share ideas and learn more about the company we have just joined.
The best advice I can give the CHESS Connect team is don’t be afraid to ask questions, take notes and be open to the idea of change.
Ability Options is a wonderful organisation and now that we’re growing our footprint on the Coffs Coast, we are going to be able to make some serious change to disability supports. Our core business is to support all our participants, helping them to achieve their NDIS and personal goals and after all that’s what were all in this industry for.