When 16-year-old Tim Armstrong began a Workplace Learning placement at a local not-for-profit aged care home, he thought he would simply be helping to make cups of tea and coffee for residents.
But the Butler local, who was diagnosed with autism two years ago, has made several deep friendships during his weekly visits to Mercy Place Edgewater and has also discovered an abiding passion for working with older people.
“Initially Tim was a little nervous about starting his work placement as he was concerned he’d find it difficult to talk with seniors, but after being taught how to communicate appropriately in the workplace he gained confidence. Before long, all the residents knew his name, and he was learning a great deal about their lives, from memories of the war years to their life adventures,” said his mum Les, who also has a background in aged care.
“The nurturing guidance he received from the staff at Mercy Place Edgewater prompted feelings of acceptance, understanding and safety, and this assisted him with building many mutual friendships, as well as ensuring that his work placement was both a positive and happy experience.
“Both Mercy Health and his school, Wanneroo Secondary College, have been amazing and the experience he’s gained has really boosted his confidence. Tim enjoyed his work experience so much that he has requested to go back and visit the residents after his placement has actually ended.”
Mercy Place Edgewater Service Manager, Alison Devonport, said Mercy Health was committed to providing care for people at every stage of life, and recognised that people living with a disability, including young people, can add immense value in many different capacities within aged care homes.
“We have an Accessibility Action Plan in place to boost disability inclusion through employment and student placement opportunities within Mercy Health, as well as ensuring the settings in which we provide care and employment are accessible to those with a disability,” Ms Devonport said.
“We were delighted to welcome Tim to Mercy Place Edgewater. He has proven to be a real hit with residents and has fitted in incredibly well, helping out with gardening, craft activities and outings.
“He also relates extremely well to our residents who felt very at ease with him from day one, and very much enjoyed spending time with him. We’re incredibly pleased to have a strong relationship with Wanneroo Secondary College, and we hope to continue to receive students on placement into the future – our residents certainly enjoy spending time with the younger generation.”
Mercy Health is a Catholic community not for profit provider of care, founded by the Sisters of Mercy and grounded in a 2000 year history of caring for those in need. The organisation is a national service provider of health and aged care throughout Victoria, Southern New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
In Western Australia, the organisation cares for more than 300 people across six residential homes, with 78 independent living units.