Playlist for the future

Music is unashamedly my first love. I like to believe that everyone can recall the first album that they purchased. That is when vinyl was originally king, not a retro choice.

I have only met one person in my life that openly boasted that he had never purchased an album. I immediately took a dislike to him. Seriously how can you trust someone, who sees no value in music?

One of my first albums was A Night at the Opera by Queen, released on 21 November 1975. What followed was a collection of Australian rock (Sherbet), UK punk (Dave Warner), R&M (Michael Jackson) and many singles, some which I won from a radio competition. Perhaps that is where my love of that medium started?

I remember the first time I raided another person’s record collection. My family was house-sitting for a wealthy English family that had chosen to go overseas during the 1974 Queensland floods. I discovered Shirley Bassey’s, Yesterday When I Was Young (1970) and as an impressionable 15-year-old, I fell in love with the absolute power of storytelling and Bassey’s boundless emotion.

There were plenty of arguments in the corridors of my childhood home, about the repeat playing of Ian Dury & The Blockheads single, ‘I Wanna Be Straight’.

Teenagers always find a voice. It seemed to aggravate my English parents that it was one of their own who persisted in promoting new wave rebellion and dystopian propaganda.

My favourite rock track is unashamedly a Jimmy Barnes classic, Lay Down Your Guns’. This track may well reveal my 1980’s youth, but it also reminds me of my time in the heady days of working in bar management in rock and roll venues in Kings Cross, Sydney. It is energising and passionate, with a great rock beat and a sexy sax player.

US social worker, Dan Cohen, has developed a Music & Memory program, which features in a 2014 documentary, Alive Inside.

The use of music to trigger the memory of people with dementia is backed by neuroscientific research. The objective is to stimulate memory, improve mood and to activate physical movement. All that you need is music from your era and a great set of headphones.

So I suggest that you start collating your playlist now. I have over 3000 tracks to chose from.

I would be more than happy to be reminded of those rock and roll days. I still play a mean Tamborine and anytime that I want to smash out a little noise, this is the track that I choose.

So my sons, don’t forget to pack, my iPod, noise-cancelling headphones and the tamborines, when you move me into residential care!

Don’t worry about my neighbours, most of them will be deaf.


Motivated to make a difference

(If you have been wondering what I’ve been doing – this is my 100th post on ‘just saying’ at


What motivates an individual to undertake employment as an individual support worker, either in aged care or disability care settings?

There is no debate, that the work requires a specialist skill base. It can be physically demanding, emotionally draining, confronting and leave many workers dealing with grief and loss on a regular basis.

And then there is the small matter of poor staff ratios and low wage. So why choose this occupation?

Aged care and disability care are essential social services, and with a rapidly ageing population, the Productivity Commission estimate that by 2050, Australia will need 980,000 aged care and disability workers. There is a ongoing skills shortage and need for labour. Is that enough motivation?

It could be argued that for many support workers, the motivation is greatly influenced by their desire for intrinsic rather than extrinsic benefits alone.

Many recently qualified individual support workers are driven by social justice values, like those before them and enter the industry armed with work practicum experience, personal stories of caring for a loved one and/or genuinely want to make a difference in the lives of others.

The behaviours of individual support workers that excel in their role include, the ability to act with compassion, adhere to ethical confidentiality, demonstrate patience, inclusivity and cultural sensitivity, and be supportive of ‘person centred care’. Then there is the matter of personal care skills, which require capability and often a strong stomach.

It is agreed by many psychologists and organisational behaviourists, that workers operating from intrinsic motivations are fully engaged and are often more productive.

It would be foolish to think that the extrinsic rewards of a wage, recognition, a sense of belonging, praise and public acclaim is what singularly motivates a person to work in social services.

Extrinsic reward can be a useful tool, when applied to a tedious work-related task, to build momentum and skills.

Many people sacrifice intrinsic reward for extrinsic rewards, focusing on their exterior lives to find their sense of meaning. Often finding that ‘time’ to invest in activities that bring about a sense of personal satisfaction can be the real challenge.

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull stumbled recently with poorly selected words, when he said that an aged care worker can ‘aspire to get a better job’. The worker was 60 years old.

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten took the opportunity to claim that the Prime Minister was ‘disrespectful of aged care workers’, at a time when there was a long-term industry demand and protracted staff shortages.

Politics aside, the objective is to have high-quality individual support workers and enable them to be ‘work ready’ for an industry that is demanding.

As for the Prime Minister, it seems that perhaps he has more in common with that ’60 year old age care worker’ than he realises. Both appear to be ‘intrinsically’ motivated, it may be only a matter of wage disparity and degrees.

Oh and that inconsequential thing, called privilege.

Younger people with disability need unique solutions

It has long been a concern of many that younger people with disability do not have adequate care options. This view is shared by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Luke, Bo’sher of the Summer Foundation and reflected in the June 2018 National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) report card.

The report identified the six most important outcomes for the NDIS to achieve for young people with high care needs, including reducing the number of people being admitted to aged care and improving the lives of those currently living in aged care facilities.

This has been a long conversation which has sparked the interest and support of many others including Bernard Fanning from the now defunct rock group, Powderfinger, who raised awareness of the work of Brisbane based organisation, Youngcare.

Fanning, along with Channel Nine’s Sylvia Jeffreys and Karl Stefanovic, celebrity chef Ben O’Donoghue and Channel Nine’s The Block, designer Darren Palmer are all Ambassadors of Youngcare. Youngcare’s partnerships are extensive including Foundation Partner, SunCorp.

Youngcare, like Summer Foundation are focused on the national issue of the current inappropriate and inadequate care for young people with disability especially those with individuals with high care needs.

Youngcare acts as a conduit for industry, government and the community to work together to bring change to the housing sector.

The Summer Foundation support the disability, health and aged care systems to work more effectively with younger people in nursing homes.  They prototype effective housing alternatives, which integrates smart home technology and good design with a support model designed to promote independence, in well-located community settings. They also develop practice guides, training materials and new models for government and non-government organisations, an undertake academic and applied research for evidence based solutions.

The Summer Foundation was established in 2006 by Di Winkler, an Occupational Therapist who has specialised in the area of severe brain injury for over 20 years.

Currently there are over 12, 000 young people with disabilities in accommodation which does not facilitate the ‘person-centred care’ mantra of the NDIS. Young people with disability are living in aged care, hospital rooms, rehabilitation centres and inappropriate accommodation that is frankly not suitable for their age.

Through the NDIS some participants with high care physical needs may be able to receive funding for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)

These participants will be given both financial means and the autonomy to command and secure their own choice fo quality supported housing. The demand for SDA is significant with the estimated number reaching over 28,000 people.

Youngcare and Summer Foundation believe that ‘now’ is  the time for unique investors, developers, government, banks and care providers to work together to solve the disability residential crisis.

The Summer Foundation report highlighted that current options, are incredibly detrimental, resulting in the reduction of independence, the loss to each individual’s ability to reach their potential, and is sadly socially isolating. Bo’sher states, ‘that 82% of younger people in residential aged care rarely or never visit their friends and around 13% never go outside’. Most would agree that this is unacceptable.

The Summer Foundation is advocating for policy and process improvements that will improved NDIS outcomes for people with complex support needs.

Their six solutions include:

  • Better coordination between NDIS, health and aged care sectors
  • Remove bureaucratic hurdles preventing people from accessing the NDIS
  • Provide more support to bring young people from aged care to the NDIS faster
  • Develop an effective national approach to quality and safeguarding for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)
  • Commit to a transparent process for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) Price and Framework reviews
  • Invest in building the capacity of people with disability to self-manage their supports.

More information about the Summer Foundation can be found here:

More information about Youngcare can be found here: 

The warmth of the son

Navigating the emotional terrain of human interaction is frankly exhausting. It is fraught with danger, it can be unforgiving and aridly relentless.

Remaining professional in the face of hostility and covert bullying, is beyond challenging.

To recover, I lock every door between the exterior world and my soul, and absorb the kindness of love and peace of silence.

Basking in friendship with others is like the warmth of the winter sun, comforting and just the right amount of heat. Finding yourself in a cold, damp swamp of hostile behaviours, has the sour smell of ugliness and the belligerence of jealously.

Some of us simply fail to understand the subtle nuances of emotional colour.

There is no orchestra of dappled shade, no morning rising glow, or moonlight in a blue night.

It is monochrome. It is simple that way.

My way or the highway, right or wrong, sides to be taken, gangs to form…..the petty game of positioning…workplace politics…

The sisterhood are particularly skilled at unfriending. Our brothers often use their fists.



Spending a day in the company of my son looking through a kaleidoscope, was a welcomed reminder of the never-ending palette of creative possibilities.

I like establishing healthy boundaries, being governed by legislated workplace frameworks, choosing my own sacred friends and operating as a adult.

I am warm and safe in company of my bright and curious son.




Time to eat cake

My anniversary is due and while I count myself alongside the fortunate ones that have this anniversary to mark, I question whether this milestone is valid or marks anything other than time.

It measures the collective time after the shattering and the start of the new normal, but mostly it acknowledges my commitment to keeping this blog for five years.

Sure I am celebrating life. I do that on a daily basis. Don’t you? I am deeply grateful for all my blessings and all those that I hold dear.

This five-year mark, is an arbitrary timeframe based upon statistical parameters, so how useful is this measure at all?  What happens after five years? That isn’t of much interest to medical researchers. If you are alive, you may be a miracle, an aberration, or you may just be on borrowed time, like the rest of us.

I remember the shock at the delivery of the cold statistical odds at the point of my diagnosis and the flippant way that gratitude should be my only response if I made it past the five-year mark. Of course, this was offered by a specialist who had never been in the driver’s seat of the cancer bandwagon.

When you are, mostly you are just trying to remain sane while you negotiate pot-holed, boggy and unstable ground.

While recognising all our lives are fragile on this blue orb, and that not one of us knows exactly the second we will be pronounced, ‘dead’, we expect more, rather than less.

We are lulled by propaganda that we will eventually earn the right to retire. Just as long as you do according to government policies, and you have enough cash to support yourself, before the apologetic aged pension kicks you, offering a pitiful compensation for the thousands of tax dollars that you have contributed to the communal pot.

After all isn’t that what the career aspirations, big dollar salary, a patch of land, home ownership and superannuation squirreling is all about, offset your eventual rapid downhill trajectory?

Time to shut that cynic up, with a big slice of thank you God cake.

So let say Happy C-Free Day and let us pray, that we all have many more of C-Free Days to come, just like me.


Surviving on foot

I am not exactly sure if I know what defines normal daily activities mean anymore?

That slide can happen incrementally, so you don’t notice it.  A little less every day, until you are astonished that you can’t recall how long you have been the ‘state’ that you now find yourself in.

I have always been a proud woman. Born with a ‘stiff upper lip’, or perhaps conditioned by British parents how to have one and maintain it, be ever resilient in the face of little choice, and ‘get on with it’,  like many people, just simply do.

We handle our lives, without fuss, fanfare or posting about the injustice of our challenges, to Facebook.

Walking is a considered a normal daily activity. For many a given activity that is taken for granted, as something that you can’t lose.

For some of us limited by injury, disability or a chronic health condition, you soon realise that the only real ‘power couple’,  that you need to truly focus on, is your feet.

Sure you can equip yourself with aids, walking frames or wheels, but it is far better that these choices be only temporary, while you are recovering.

If you have no choice, then all of us that do,  I suggest that we collectively start appreciating the simple freedom that we possess at the end of our legs. I have been dragged into that realisation myself.

For the majority of people, our feet are our main mode of transport.

If you lose mobility, your world shrinks quicker than your dreams of climbing the Himayalas, walking the Kokoda track, trekking through London’s Portobello Road markets or strolling through fallen Japanese cherry blossoms.

You will call victory, managing the weekly grocery shopping without being in crippling pain.

A dragon awake

The dragon is no longer sleeping.

It is awake and scorching everything in its path. In this era of disruptive technologies, taming the dragon is no longer an option, and you’ll need more than a metal shirt, to do it well.

Choosing the platform that is right for your business based on the simple business equation of return on investment (ROI) is more complex than ever before.

Once a newspaper advertisement, a little soft shoe shuffle of editorial to create a poorly disguised advertorial, a flyer inserted in the local paper or the amateur version taped illegally to a power pole was all it took to advertise your wares. Then came the cleverly constructed radio or television ad (and they are few and far between) or perhaps a cinema short for those better heeled, or for those less so; an air dancer or placarded desperado in a clown costume on the verge might have been the cheap novelty alternative.

Enter disruptive technologies…full frontal into your daily life! If you are not connected, then you are a social pariah. If you think it doesn’t matter you are still comatosed from 1990’s synthesized elevator mus-zac.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Linkedin etc…. are essential or are they?

The Generations (X, Y and M) have seamlessly adjusted to the new dawn. They are switched on, signed up and syncopated.

But what about all of those who have declared to stay off the grid? Those individuals that reluctantly have a smart phone, and are desperately looking for a ‘smart’ user to go with it.

Enter the social media manager…and if you’re wise, choose one that has strategic business credibility, creates unique copy, is a whiz at marketing and is willing to drag you gently into the 21st century…

If you don’t think you need one of these ..Ask yourself this question.

Am I prepared to write creative copy, post it online, review comments, manage relationships, blog speak, create advertisements, shoot, edit and upload video grabs, soundtrack it and after that, repeat the process, if not daily at least three times a week at least?

No?……better find yourself one then…. or learn how to….just You Tube it?

Right?  Oh, you have a life already full of commitments…..Bummer!

Just ask me, I promise I’ll be patient with you.

Consultancy services available here: