Staff Memo #1 31-05-23


I am always impressed when employees take the time to put their thoughts down in writing to me.

It gives me the chance to keep in touch by reply and, with this response, gives me a chance to comment on some matters.

The employee’s written concerns are in black and my response in red.

I would like to and have been also advised to after a message conversation with my Service Co-ordinator to give feedback about the summer shed on Fridays.

Many thanks for your feedback.  I am spreading my response through this memo to a larger audience because your questions give me a chance to explain some of NWSS’ decisions and actions.

As it stands now certain clients have the summer shed as an activity in their daily support plan, it also stands that if you are not going to attend this activity, we are to report this to our service co-ordinator.

Yes, this is the case and I hope I will be able to explain why through this reply.  We dropped the word summer from the name some time ago when we realised that we could comfortably continue activities through the winter.

Whilst I do believe that the summer shed is a great activity for the clients, we support I do also believe that it is not ideal for some clients once the colder weather sets in.

Yes, you may well have a point here but, let me cover this as I reply.

Now that the colder and wet weather is starting to begin as we are heading into the winter season the summer shed may not be the best environment for some of our clients during the colder seasons, especially when these clients are more susceptible to cold and flu’s during these colder months, the shed is quite draughty, limited heat, uninsulated and for our non-mobile and older clients whom get wet on the way in to the shed and don’t move around once in the shed, sitting in a cold area or sitting in damp or wet clothes is not an ideal situation for these clients. Clients that fall into the more Vulnerable category would include Warren Walker, David Brown, and Peter Webb to name a few.

The health of our clients is paramount, but we do need to carefully clarify the conditions that you list and the actual risk to their health.

We need to clarify what is meant by draughty, limited heat, uninsulated, and getting wet on the way to the shed.  We need to consider these against getting people out and about, experiencing a range of health promoting journeys and weather conditions.  We live in a seasonally diverse location but with careful planning and responses we can still venture out into the world year around.

The summer shed doesn’t really accommodate for the clients with limited or no abilities to participate in the activity’s offered and are more likely to just sit for the time at the shed during the colder months of the year. There are the more able clients who are in the shed doing woodwork, which is a great activity, but you then have the more compromised clients sitting and breathing in sawdust from sanding, then the doors have to be open which then makes the heaters useless and makes it very draughty.

The shed has always accommodated people who may simply come for lunch or the pancakes and leave early so, no-one is restricted from leaving but I do believe the small amount of time away from home and in the shed is, in fact, life enriching.

We are about to move the machinery into the next door shed, have activities planned that include more of the people with limited mobility and more heaters available.

As I do understand that we are required to show NDIS what the clients are doing for the hours that they are funded for I do believe that we need to be aware and have a bit of leeway for the more vulnerable clients that we support to be supported in a warmer environment through out these colder months and for the staff to be able to have some initiative to be able to do suitable activities for our clients during these colder months that we believe that our clients will enjoy, even if this is in home activities, there are plenty of great things that staff are able to do with staff within the home these may include art projects, foot spa’s, dancing, having visitors, games, crafts and the possibilities are endless. I am sure that NDIS would not require our older and more compromised clients to have to go out in freezing cold and wet weather, especially for these clients that have now retired from their day service centres for these reasons.

This is an incredibly important comment, and I thank you for your support towards expanding lifestyle activities and life enrichment.  If people had appropriate and consistent lifestyle activities like you allude to in your list, their lives would be enriched.  The Shed would just be one in a long and exciting list.  However, this is not what I see in a lot of the homes when I visit.  I too often see residents sitting around doing nothing and I see this enough to be concerned that there is no consistency across the shared homes.   Hence the need for our Lifestyle Calendars.

Please send me invitations to home based activities that are happening regularly and consistently that I could visit and document as successes.

I feel that the support plans are so structured now that we don’t get the opportunity to be able to do activities with our clints that we believe that our clients would really enjoy, and this time of year is a great opportunity for our staff to come up with some fantastic and more suitable activities to accommodate for the colder weather.

The opportunities are wide open.  Give me the lifestyle activities that can be held in-house or anywhere for that matter, and we will feed them into the lifestyle calendars and know that they happen appropriately and consistently.  If equipment and materials are needed, let me know.

My last word on this is that I followed some of the most enjoyed lifestyle activities over time and found that there was no consistency or reliability.  I started to imagine how my life would be if I never knew when I was going to get back to my most-loved lifestyle activities.

I look forward to shared home teams taking the lead in providing in home, winter lifestyle activities.

My only condition on this is that the activity must be registered into the Lifestyle Calendar so that it is appropriate and happens with consistency.

With 20 shared homes we can no longer leave the control of participation in lifestyle activities solely with staff.  These critical life enriching activities need controlling from an objective point like our Leadership Team and led by support workers like yourself.

Your interest in this could mean that the home you live in could pave the way for secure, consistent, in home, life enriching activities.


Neal Rodwell — General Manager — North West Support Services — 0418 140 000