As Home Caring NDIS Case Manager and Supporter Coordinator, Nicki Martin cares for clients with passion, knowledge and a down-to-earth ‘can do’ attitude. She also brings something unique to her role: invaluable life experience.
We asked Nicki a few questions about why she chose to work in NDIS support.
How did you get into the care industry?
My son was diagnosed with cancer when he was 3 years old. We spent a lot of time at the hospital, where I learnt that life can bevery hard, and you do what you can to get through it. I was working to bring in the money and keep a roof over our heads by managing high school canteens, but as my children grew up, I felt I wanted my work to feel like it meant something – to have a sense of purpose and feel I’ve made a difference.
So I stopped working and went to study community service full-time. I gained experience and further study in dementia care, and realised that I loved working with dementia clients. Seniors have such interesting histories and I love hearing their stories.
Then Istarted as a support worker and worked my way up into case management and support coordination. This year, I’ve started working more intensively with NDIS clients. Drawing on my own life experience ofsupporting and raising a child with cancer, I know that if you can make life a bit easier for someone, that’s a good thing. Even though I’m a late bloomer in this industry, it’s an asset, as I can bring my life experience and a bit of empathy into my role.
You wear two hats as a case manager and support coordinator. What do these two roles involve?
As a case manager, I go out to see clients, find out whatcore support they need, and find an appropriate support worker for them. It’s about everyday tasks like housework and personal care.
When I wear my support coordinator hat, it’s about capacity building. I look at the person’s goals and how they want to achieve them, then link them to the appropriate service. Support coordination is a lot of behind the scenes work, like making referrals on my client’s behalf.
How do you help people make the most of their NDIS funding?
The NDIS gives you funding for different streams of categories. There’s funding for the every day sort of stuff (for example, housecleaning,) then specific funding for getting out in the community or having someone visit you.
Then there’s a whole range of capacity-building support, which includes therapists, specific training, helpwith behaviours, funding for exercise and diet advice. Each individual participant looks at what their diagnosis is and what will help them.
Some people may not know where to start with their funding, and that’s where support coordination comes in. We can help people with a disability understand what they can use the funding for, and how to make the most of it. We also help ensure their funding lasts for the whole plan, so they don’t run out of support too early.
What are some favourite moments you’ve had with clients?
I had a brand new client this week who never had any help before. We gave the dad a bit of a break in his caring role, and helped his daughter stay at home longer because he’s not burning out as much. That was great. They thanked me for being so down to earth, likeable and approachable, which meant a lot.
I’ve got another client who moved over from a provider that was ceasing NDIS support. She’d been with them for over 6 years and had to start fresh with us. She was a bit isolated where she lived, so we got the support staff in. She loves how her support workers chat to her about life in general, and said, “I love that they don’t just come in as a worker, they just talk about what’s happening in the world.” They don’t treat her like a task, and this is so important.
What personal qualities have you developed since starting in the care industry?
Patience and flexibility. Ultimately it’s the person’s plan and their life – we can only guide and support, as they are the decision makers in their lives. I put myself in my client’s position: if someone else was the decision maker of my life, how would I feel?
Thanks for your time Nicky, and for all the wonderful work you do for our clients!