Catherine Goh, by her own admission, is not a morning person. When the alarm goes off and it’s dark outside, she would much prefer to hit snooze and snuggle back down.
But then she remembers the people who are counting on her to turn up for work and it’s the motivation she needs to get moving.
Catherine is a community support worker with Brightwater at Home, one of a million and a half workers across Australia who visit elderly clients in their own homes and help them with day to day tasks and social access or by providing companionship.
Catherine’s shift begins at 7am when she’s there to help her clients to start their day.
“Sometimes they're out of bed. Sometimes I’ll help them get up. Some people might need medication, others need a shower and help to get dressed, or to get breakfast and do a few dishes. Each person is different,” Catherine said.
Like all community support workers, Catherine spends her day traveling from client to client, supporting them in whatever they need to remain independent and well at home.
“In the middle of the day you might help with things like shopping and cleaning and respite and then in the afternoon you might help with some showers and medication and meal preparation, getting ready for their dinner.”
It’s more than a decade since Catherine started with Brightwater. After her first career as a social worker, she spent time raising her children and then studying for an associate degree in dementia care.
She says there has been a lot of change in the sector and the role of community support workers is more vital than ever.
“Your home is your safe place and especially with Covid-19, people are spending more time at home so you need to have somebody that comes in and helps with whatever is needed in terms of practical tasks.
But we are also filling a huge gap in helping prevent loneliness so it's important work.”
Community services is one of the fastest growing sectors in Australia, and many more workers are needed to provide support to an increasing population of elderly people who want to remain living independently for as long as possible.
Community services workers need to have the requisite qualifications and training as well as a commitment to the people who rely on them. For Catherine Goh, that commitment is repaid by her daily interactions with the clients themselves.
“At the end of the day when I've had that time with clients, I feel so good that I've given but I've also learned so much. It is very rewarding,” she said.