Taking action on a movement for housing change

Libby Ellis

06 July 2020 | 5 min read

Taking action on a movement for housing change

I work for the Summer Foundation’s Sydney Housing Matching Team. Our team is focussed on meeting NDIS participants who could be eligible for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) funding from the NDIS.

I am also a family member of someone who needs significant support in their home. Putting my family member hat on for a moment, I have reflected on the lack of opportunity prior to the NDIS and the hard slog of trying to create something out of nothing. What an incredible privilege to meet people now and have new possibilities to offer.

Are you a person who may benefit from learning more about housing and SDA?

Do you work with individuals or families who could connect with us?

People with disability, families and carers in Sydney and NSW can contact me directly at libby.ellis@summerfoundation.org.au or 0455 110 678.

These are our current upcoming sessions on SDA:

Read on

Taking action on a movement for housing change

How a Movie can Stir up Feelings and Memories

Jane Pfaff

02 July 2020 | 15 min read

How a Movie can Stir up Feelings and Memories

When I first received an invitation to view the film ‘Crip Camp’, I was a bit put off by the name. However, as it was the beginning of the disability rights movement and the independent living movement in the United States, and the relationships and shared determination of the people who first met at Camp Jened in the ’60s and early ’70s, I decided to go ahead and watch it.

The movie that was only put together this year brought back many memories of my own involvement, over the years, with people with disabilities and their struggle for rights and to have the same opportunities to live life like everyone else does.

Let’s go back to the name and reflect on the language used to describe some people with disabilities, such as cripples, spastics, retards and subnormal. If you go back even further people would have been called, feeble-minded, insane, lunatics and imbeciles. In Australia organisations have now changed their names, but did you know that Northcott was called The NSW Society for Crippled Children (established in 1929 and like referenced in the film set up primarily as a response to the Polio outbreak), The Cerebral Palsy Alliance was known as the Spastic Centre (Miss Australia Quest/Competition from 1957 to 2000) and Achieve was the SCWA (Subnormal Children’s Welfare Association established in 1952).

Read on

How a Movie can Stir up Feelings and Memories

The Beauty from within - don’t judge a book by its cover!

Jane Pfaff

18 June 2020 | 5 min read

The Beauty from within - don’t judge a book by its cover!

How often do we make assumptions about people from just looking at them or allow other people's opinions to cloud our judgement?

This continues to happen throughout life - in our personal lives, work situations, with our parents, family and friends, at school as students or as parents, and of course the influence of the media and politics.

You may have experienced a new boss and being told by others that they are difficult and unfair and then finding out that in fact you get on really well, share similar values and find them a pleasure to work with. Can you relate to being an anxious parent standing in the playground at the beginning of a new school year waiting to see who your child gets as their year Two teacher? Hearing the name of the teacher that many have warned you about, and then, your child’s name is called out and you dread the coming year, only to find that your child really loves being in that teacher's class and thrives throughout the school year.

How many times, when asked what sort of work you do and you say that you work with people with a disability, do you get the response ....”oh you so good, you must be so patient, I could never do that”. 

What are people referring to here?

Read on

The Beauty from within - don’t judge a book by its cover!

Our Current Covid-19 Response

David Ackling-Jones

12 June 2020 | 1 min read

Our Current Covid-19 Response

We work to find resourceful ways to support freedom, social connection and wellbeing for people with a disability, and this matters more now than ever.

How have we been providing safe and effective Positive Behaviour Support services during the Covid-19 crisis?

  • On 28 March, we made the decision to provide telepractice services and no on-site services, to help stem the spread of the virus
  • On 08 May, as government authorities began to relax some restrictions in Australia, we resumed some direct, on-site, face to face services
  • In June we have resumed face to face services in the majority of services, as this is the type of work we will always seek to provide, where it leads to the best outcome for our clients.
  • Via a variety of digital platforms, our clinicians are still providing a full range of Positive Behaviour Support services. We have continued to use telepractice when there remains a significant risk in relation to Covid-19, or where clients prefer this mode of service.
  • If you are arranging a face to face service from your clinician, your clinician will schedule this appointment to occur at a place and time that you and they determine is safe, respectful and supportive. 
  • Your clinician may share a checklist prior to the visit to help manage health and safety
  • Our admin team is busy and eager to help you with your referral
  • We're continuing to grow as a team, and we're seeking more brilliant new team members
  • We’re making a huge ongoing investment in team growth and wellbeing through ongoing in-service training, weekly 1:1 mentoring, and great collaboration

We’re passionate about preserving quality of life for the people we support and making things better during this challenging time.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.

David Ackling-Jones

CEO.

1300 694 625  info@abilityconsultants.com.au

Our Current Covid-19 Response

Tick Number One

Jane Pfaff

01 June 2020 | 3 min read

Tick Number One

As a carer you need to firstly care for yourself!

For some of us, during Covid 19, practicing social distancing and only going out for essential trips, life became a lot simpler. But, as a carer, particularly of someone who may not understand why this is happening, I can only try and imagine how difficult and demanding this must be.

All people in a caring role are heroes. With day programs and supported employment programs disrupted, all carers have been finding the current arrangements particularly challenging. Those employed by organisations providing accommodation service as carers have often found themselves in the situation of having all the clients at home 24/7.

Carers who are looking after a loved one within the family home, are not provided an opportunity to have any or much ‘me’ time. It is very important for these carers to look after themselves so that they remain healthy and able to continue in that very special caring role.

You might have found some of the other blogs on our website, about activities useful in finding some things that spark an interest in the person you care for. If you haven’t, take a look, you might even find some of these could be beneficial for you.

I know it’s hard: when you get the opportunity to have a few minutes to yourself, you are probably using it to do housework, laundry, cooking or shopping.

IT IS SO IMPORTANT to take some time out for yourself

Read on

Tick Number One

5 Questions that Can Clear Away the Gloom

David Ackling-Jones

20 April 2020

5 Questions that Can Clear Away the Gloom

This post is personal. It is about how I shifted my gloomy mindset today.

It is a mission to stay healthy and aligned amid so much uncertainty and disruption. So, today I did an exercise from a great book, Inner Child Journeys, by the psychologist Robin Grille. It occurred to me that this exercise, relevant to my role as a parent, could extend to my work role, also. That's why I am sharing it here. 

Read on

5 Questions that Can Clear Away the Gloom

Dealing with Isolation: for people in Supported Living

Poli Gavria

04 April 2020

Dealing with Isolation: for people in Supported Living

Here are some general recommended practices, for carers, support workers and parents supporting people with disabilities who are socially isolated due to the Corona Crisis.

Read on

Dealing with Isolation: for people in Supported Living

Anxiety Tools for Parents and Carers during Covid-19

Andrea Kuepper

04 April 2020

Anxiety Tools for Parents and Carers during Covid-19

We know at AbilityConsultants that being a parent or carer of someone with special needs is highly rewarding, but at times can also be challenging. Often, when something stressful happens in our own life, it can affect our work and our ability to look after others.

With the ongoing situation of COVID-19, most of us will feel anxious to some degree, even those who typically do not tend to feel that way. We wanted to remind you that it is OK to reach out to access support at the moment for yourself to be able to look after others. And feel free to consult your assigned Behaviour Support Specialists for additional support in these unprecedented times. Here are some self-help tools.

Read on

Anxiety Tools for Parents and Carers during Covid-19

17 Stimulating Activities During the Corona Crisis

Poli Gavria

04 April 2020

17 Stimulating Activities During the Corona Crisis

Right now, we are stuck at home and at risk of being bored. Someone said, "Boredom is usually the thing that happens, right before you do something truly creative."

Some of these activities may match your abilities, likes and interests. Maybe none of them. Maybe this list makes your boredom worse! If that's the case, I hope the boredom sparks your own creativity, and you develop a unique set of stimulating activities for you.

Let us know!

Read on

17 Stimulating Activities During the Corona Crisis

How we Provide Positive Behaviour Support by Telepractice

Steve Davies

01 April 2020

How we Provide Positive Behaviour Support by Telepractice

Before I started at Ability Consultants I worked for a school. Everything I did was done face to face, and it worked fine for me. When I moved across, I was given a Zoom account, which included a phone number, and released into the world as a tele-practitioner. In fact, the first client I was given at Ability Consultants is someone who lives in a different state to me, and I’ve never met them in the flesh. This service has worked fantastically well to date. The client is a very smart person looking to explore how to apply elements of Positive Behaviour Support in their life to help solve some of the problems they’ve been facing. In this particular situation, meeting on a digital platform has probably worked better than it would have to try to meet face to face. Many of our clients have diagnoses which predispose them to difficulties around social anxiety and social communication difficulties, and many of these people also have an interest and preference for technology. Meeting via Zoom allows clear, direct, focussed, 1:1 communication using cool technology, which is just perfect for situations like this.

Since the COVID-19 restrictions have come into place, Ability Consultants have quite rightly made the decision that we shouldn’t be meeting people in their normal environments in the community for the time being. 

Read on

How we Provide Positive Behaviour Support by Telepractice

What's it like being an Ability Consultant?

Jane Pfaff

17 February 2020

What's it like being an Ability Consultant?

What is it like to be an Ability Consultant?

Well, I can tell you that no day is ever the same.

Here’s what some of our staff have to say ...

Read on

What's it like being an Ability Consultant?

Resilience

Jane Pfaff

12 February 2020

Resilience

I continue to marvel at the resilience of the people we support.

Over the past 40 years working in the disability sector, I have watched, particularly in group homes:

  • A constant coming and going of support staff
  • Support programs that are taken away, then reinstated, only to be taken away again
  • Communication supports, such as chat books removed or symbols not replaced, because ‘the client always destroys them’
  • Boards posted on the wall of the group home, such as a ‘who’s on shift’, taken down as it is not considered appropriate in a home.
  • Attitudes from some staff that any display of challenging behaviour should have a consequence
  • Loss of contact with family and friends
  • People not recognised as sexual beings
  • Illness or death of a co-resident and a dismissal of the persons need (or ability) to grieve

WOW… I wonder how I would cope? How would you cope?

Read on

Resilience

6 Things that make a Positive Behaviour Support Plan Great

Jane Pfaff

21 October 2019

6 Things that make a Positive Behaviour Support Plan Great

Starting out as a Behaviour Clinician in 1987, I have seen a wide variety of Behaviour Support Plans. Way back then the training was called the "Program Officers Course." The course was only open to nurses with Mental Retardation, Psychiatric, or Geriatric registration by the NSW Health Commission. It required attending 12 weeks of training, living-in at Stockton Hospital and staying in the Nurses Home, Monday to Friday. 

Since this time, I have seen a wide variety of Behaviour Support Plans. Here is a list of 6 things I believe make a Behaviour Support Plan great.

Read on

6 Things that make a Positive Behaviour Support Plan Great

Things have changed...

Jane Pfaff

03 October 2019

Things have changed...

As the saying goes…”it’s not rocket science”

Being able to communicate, socialise, participate in meaningful activities and enjoy physical activity are essential for a good and satisfying life.

I have worked in the disability sector for a very long time, mostly in Government. Whilst I recognise that much of what went before the NDIS was certainly not perfect and that a lot of people seemed to get a rolls royce service, I do believe that there was an ability to try and get it right for clients and that clinicians advice was respected, particularly when it came to clients with challenging behaviour. It wasn’t always easy to get support or funding, however there was a better understanding of the reasoning and the experience of the cost long term if resources were not funded adequately from the start. There was also an ability to provide uninterrupted service.

Over the past 2 years working in an NDIS environment managing a team of clinicians, therapists and case managers the pain points seem to be many.

Read on

Things have changed...

Connect with us

David Ackling-Jones

06 July 2019

Connect with us

What does it take to be an Ability Consultant?

We are clinicians focussed on serving people with disability. 

We have all worked for several years in the field, and are on a journey of professional growth. We are question-askers, learners, communicators, evidence-seekers, and we openly share our ideas and skills.

We are human, and we live to build human connection into everything we do.

We are psychologists, behaviour analysts, and allied health professionals with strong ethics and person-centred values.

We are all from different backgrounds, and we love this diversity. 

We all believe Behaviour Support can be done differently, and more effectively in an atmosphere of openness and continuous improvement. We seek feedback and celebrate the opportunity to learn.

We have a supportive culture. We are people who focus on supporting others on the team.

Many of us have young families. We thrive in a role where we have complete flexibility of time and location. We can work at a time and a place that balances with our life and where there is no pressure to work more or less than we need to.

We are a team of leaders. Clinicians with the maturity and skill to work as independent specialists, focussed on client outcomes. We love having this level of autonomy, and value the daily challenge.

We commit to clinical and operational supervision and keep an individual learning plan in place. We work in an organisation that funds our conference attendance, research activities, courses, and individual learning opportunities.

We value our streamlined administration systems and our wonderful admin team, who enable us to focus on providing therapy rather than doing hours of NDIS paperwork.

If this sounds like you, check out our Careers page. We put a new ad on seek yesterday.

Connect with us

Brainstorming Ideas for our Ad

David Ackling-Jones

04 July 2019

Brainstorming Ideas for our Ad

I am struggling.

We are Gold Sponsor of the Australian Association for Behaviour Analysts (AABA) conference at the end of this month. We need to provide an A4 advertisement for the back page of the booklet.

There is so much I want to say. but how to organise it all in my head? Hope writing this blog post helps...


First question: "Why?" Why does Ability Consultants exist?

  • NDIS participants shouldn't have to wait for months for effective therapy and support.
  • People affected by disability shouldn't be punished or restricted
  • The most empowering and enabling evidence-based behaviour therapy should be freely accessible
  • Behaviour therapists should be free to focus on clinical services, not doing hours of admin

Second Question: "How?" How do we make a meaningful difference?

  • We make it easy for behaviour therapists to work in a compliant and client-focussed way under the NDIS
  • We make it easy for NDIS participants in need of Behaviour Support to engage quality services
  • We support learning and growth within the Behaviour Support workforce, internal to our organisation and more broadly
  • We honour and build awareness of ABA as a foundation for person-centred and empowering Behaviour Support

Third Question: "What?" What services do we provide?

  • For NDIS Participants of all ages, we provide Positive Behaviour Support, and Psychological assessment and therapy services
  • For Behaviour clinicians seeking to work in the NDIS, we provide a complete admin solution that frees them to focus on clinical work

I want to waffle-on and provide more details, but I think that sums up the Whys, the Hows and the Whats.

I will circulate it now to the team for feedback.

Brainstorming Ideas for our Ad

Visit our new Penrith Office

David Ackling-Jones

13 May 2019

Visit our new Penrith Office

Spare a thought for Daniel (Team Leader Western Sydney)... Many of his current clients live on the Northern Beaches. He drives down every day from Hazelbrook, in the Blue Mountains.

So, we have opened an office in Penrith to connect with more local customers.

It is at 95B Station Street, Penrith. Phone 1300 MY GOAL, to meet us there.

We have a growing team of experienced Behaviour Support Specialists who live all over Sydney. Until recently we only had Ability Consultants listed as a Northern Sydney service on the NDIS website. My fault, sorry, Daniel and team.

Please make a referral today, if you need Specialist Behaviour Support, especially if you are in the Western Sydney or Blue Mountains area.

Visit our new Penrith Office

Building the Aircraft while Flying

David Ackling-Jones

12 May 2019

Building the Aircraft while Flying

Doing new things is good, but we didn’t know what the hell we were doing when we started all this.

We were overwhelmed with the complexities of the NDIS. We had to adapt our practice to the new technical environment. We are people-people, not techies.

We realised most people feel the same way. Being behaviour technicians, at least we had the advantage that we love data.

So, we built our own software. And it worked.

We now run our whole organisation on it. It talks to the NDIS, so we can focus on serving people. It’s allowed us to grow.

(We have used a great app builder called Appsheet to create our administration tools on the fly. We highly recommend it.)

But, the software is grounded for maintenance today. It's Mothers Day and we're busy debugging the software, instead of playing with family.

Our aircraft will fly better when we wash the bugs off the windshield. We’re chatting with some developers who'll help with this ongoing job. Just need to let it go.

Building the Aircraft while Flying

We are hiring!

David Ackling-Jones

29 April 2019

We are hiring!

Too many NDIS Participants are living a crappy life. Their support needs are not understood. Some of these people have had to wait for months for a Behaviour Support service.

We believe it is urgent we attract and nurture more brilliant behaviour support clinicians into the NDIS.

Our vision is life-changing NDIS Behaviour Support services that are easy to access. We've built a reputation for delivering outcomes in an urgent way.

As new referrals stream in, we need to grow our team, so our current waiting list standard (3.5 weeks) can be maintained. We think this is vital.

We focus on the growth and wellbeing of our team. This attracts great clinicians and maintains the high quality of our service.

Today, we've advertised three positions on our Careers page.

We are hiring!

Our new Baulkham Hills office

David Ackling-Jones

20 April 2019

Our new Baulkham Hills office

You might have seen we have an office in Mosman, and wonder if we serve your part of Sydney. We have Behaviour Support Specialists spread all over Sydney. Probably in your local area.

Four of our staff, Claire, Monique, Felicity and Lily, live in the Northwest: so, our first new office is at Level 5 Nexus Norwest, 4 Columbia Court, Baulkham Hills, 2153.

We hope this leads to more local referrals and less travel time for Claire, Monique, Felicity and Lily.

If you live in the Hills, please give us a ring (1300 MY GOAL), and organise a catch up at our new office.

Looking forward to our team meeting 1 May, at the new office with all of the team.

By the way, we still have our Mosman Office, and we plan to open more offices, to cover other local parts of Sydney, in the near future, so stay tuned.

Our new Baulkham Hills office

Confused about Restrictive Practices?

David Ackling-Jones

15 April 2019

A great new resource came out this week for people with Restrictive Practices.

When the NDIS safeguarding laws arrived in July 2018 there was a lot of reading to be done.

Finally... here are your Cliff Notes on Restrictive Practices in NSW. Thanks, FACS!

Watch this video and in 4.5 minutes, you'll know what a Restrictive Practice is, and what you need to do.

Sneak preview: you'll need a registered behaviour support clinician to write an Interim Behaviour Support Plan, and you'll need to do this within a month if there is a Restrictive Practice.

If you are in the greater Sydney area, please make an online referral today and we will see you in less than a month.

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We serve Greater Sydney & beyond

Ability Consultants is a team of Behaviour Support Specialists who work with clients on site throughout Greater Sydney all the way through to the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Illawarra regions.

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