Disability Support Worker, Clare Ganly, and her keen clients are more than stepping up to the rules as they evolve around that virus. Clare’s Walking Group and Sydney Explorers group both stopped for about a month when the virus was new and little was known about it. But by April, Clare had begun taking three of each group out individually, so each client was enjoying an outing each week while Clare was managing six!
“First and foremost is ensuring everyone’s safety,” says Clare, “Next is providing opportunities for much-needed exercise and social connection with others”.
“As our knowledge about the virus and precautions increased, we were able to provide the service in a different way, still following strict COVID-safe guidelines. I met with clients individually at their homes, then walked locally for an hour – keeping social distance all the way.”
This graduated to two hours by which time clients Brigitte Cook, Emma Prott-Buttell and Nicole Waltz all walked 6,000 to 10,000 step in an outing. So Clare was walking that a few times a week! Besides getting exercise, clients were excited about getting back into their weekly walking routine – not to mention happy to be outdoors, out of isolation, enjoying a chat.
Now Clare takes Walking Group clients together to outdoor destinations chosen by the girls in discussion with Clare about Covid-safe rules and risks.
They used to travel by public transport and foot; now they travel in a spacious 12-seater minivan with volunteer driver Mick Larkin, all practising social distancing in the bus as with everywhere else. There are plenty of masks, and rigorous sanitising of bus surfaces and hands, too.
“There are many health checks in place to ensure we can still get out and have fun in a safely managed way. It’s the ‘new norm’ but when you see how excited the girls are to see each other every Monday, their enormous smiles and lots of laughter, the extra routines are all worth it,” says Clare.
Another service that’s changed with the times is the Sydney Explorers Group which used to go out together on Wednesdays. Clare started individual, weekly outings with Explorers Daniel Stanwix, Milena Trombetta, and married couple Darren and Sandra Munro (outings together as a couple) in late April, visiting scenic places often by the water. They travel with Clare individually by car to enjoy a new place, a walk in fresh air and feeling they’re part of the community.
Clare devotes an hour or a little more to each Sydney Explorers member so, as well as working out clients’ preferences and safety, timing and distances between destinations are crucial. She says sometimes clients are frustrated by restrictions – as we all are.
“But they understand about Covid and do want to be safe. They know that some of their favourite activities such as movies and bowling, restaurant lunches, and putt-putt golf, are right off the list for now and that outdoors, fresh air and exercise are the go. It just takes a little encouragement as to what they’ll like about a destination. Everyone still loves a beautiful view and, combined with take-away fish and chips or coffee, it makes a fun day out.”
To find out more about our Community Engagement and Participation programs please phone us on 9427 6425 or visit this page