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 13-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.