Business Awards 2019

8 APAC / 2019 Business Awards , Nov19075 Best Disability Support Service Provider - Victoria Living with a disability can be difficult. It can put a lot of pressure on families, and while most cope, it still has a considerable impact on the informal support network that keep things running smoothly. At AGAPI Care Inc., the team strives to keep all people with disabilities socially connected and included nomatter what their circumstances. We took a closer look at this award- winning provider to find out more. Founded in 1987 by a group of Greek- Australian parents, AGAPI Care has carried on their work with the same attitude that started it all – an unwavering belief that their children with a disability were entitled to the same access to programs and services as other members of the community without prejudice or disadvantage. The vision of AGAPI Care is the empowerment of those with disabilities and supporting those who offer support. Recognising that families play a vital role in supporting those with disabilities, often while they cope, there is considerable stress on these informal supports. This puts a great deal of strain on the quality of family life, from financial hardship to a negative, if unintended impact on siblings. Designing their services to enable, support and encourage people to participate fully and equally within the community, AGAPI Care is incredibly flexible and creative with their responses, recognising their clients as individuals with individual needs. AGAPI Care builds on these principles of kindness and relieves pressure without prejudice or disadvantage. With roots in multicultural principles, AGAPI Care provide support to people with a disability and those who need emergency crisis accommodation. People with disabilities are given the opportunity to interact with other members of the community, sharing in a multicultural environment with no barriers. The chance to attend special events, sporting activities, camps and outings would not be possible without the efforts of AGAPI Care. Instead of enforcing options, people are given the opportunity and the choice to select what they want to participate in. AGAPI Care services are designed to support people with disabilities to gain more independence, be more involved in their community and achieve all the things that matter to them most. It wasn’t long after the establishment of the organisation, that AGAPI Care expanded its services from the centre to provide in-house support for clients, supplied by a trained professional alongside the informal support system. This offers clients a different sort of respite while remaining in the comfort of their own homes. There is the chance to learn new skills and experience greater independence that meets individual needs in the family home with carers of their own choice. As a not-for-profit organisation, the success of AGAPI Care cannot be measured by the bottom line. Instead, it must be looked at in terms of the accomplishments of clients, who demonstrate the progress they’ve made daily, showing that their disability is not an obstacle, not a barrier and does not define who they are as a person. Client focused in every respect, the philosophy of AGAPI Care has always been to be provide support and services that match the way in which the client wants to be helped. A carefully designed system, perfected by dedicated practitioners over the years to remove the rougher edges, has been put in place. It involves, as an essential first step, the use of several information fathering tools and instruments designed by professionals with specific experience in disability support. Once collected, this material can be used to create a platform for various sorts of flexible support, long-term engagement and capacity to increase skills, choice, safety, empowerment and inclusion. The culture at AGAPI Care actively encourages the application of leadership qualities. It’s a great place to learn, develop and practice these qualities within the core values of the company. By focusing on what both employees and clients believe and value, the AGAPI Care team have the potential to increase their work ethic and eventually client outcome. Sharing information and ideas in a range of different environments has really pushed the team to explore ideas in new ways. The introduction of formal and informal surveys, regular staff meetings, brainstorming sessions and learning materials in other languages has really pushed the staff at AGAPI Care forward. Facing the challenge of a shortage of skilled staff across the industry, AGAPI Care took the decision to train any person willing to learn and understand how to best support those with disabilities. All applicants are selected based on merit, without prejudice, and given the opportunity to succeed. Those looking to work with AGAPI must be aware of the existing company culture, which is done best by listening to client stories, and participating in client seminars, while clients provide feedback regarding expectation, dignity and respect. This investment in staff for future leaders in the field is a long- term goal, with every day an opportunity to reflect on what has worked, what can be done better and how to improve personally. It’s important that those who come to AGAPI Care for training and development, stay for the long-term in order to repay this investment. Currently, AGAPI Care are reviewing their strategic plan, aiming to collaborate more fully with other disability partners. Having approached several small providers to merge with AGAPI Care, it appears that this support service provider is aiming to bring a more diverse service to the market. As far as AGAPI Care is concerned, Australia is perfectly positioned to allow a person to grow professionally while maintaining the social interaction that everyone desires. With so many different types of business from one-man-operations to large corporations, the ultimate ambition of being the best you can be, producing the best product possible and ensuring you are in demand remains the same. Providing staff with the tools and resources to achieve this is not always easy. Many organisations neglect to empower their staff to be leaders