A Day in the life of a Dadirri House Manager
The day-to-day operations for each Dadirri home are co-ordinated by a House Manager who has responsibility for the safety and satisfaction of individual residents and staff and ensuring Dadirri protocols are met.
Just like running any household the role of House Manager requires a combination of kindness, care, empathy and authority together with an administrative focus and effective time management.
Each day is different but House Manager at Oak House, Dawson, provides some insight into an average day.
“Dadirri group homes are simply that, homes. They are surrogate family environments and the staff are the visiting social educators. We work from the ethos of ‘do with, not for’. Where it is apparent that the resident has the capacity to learn a new life skill then our staff will work with them to develop that skill until they can perform it unassisted.”
Oak House Manager, Dawson
Dawson’s day starts with a quick catch up with Awake Shift and the incoming Day Shift staff members who are already busy supporting residents as they prepare for the activities of the day.
“As with any home the mornings are usually hectic as everyone hurries to be ready in time to head out the door! Breakfast is cooked and lunches packed for residents attending Day Programs.”
After breakfast Dawson will do the round of daily drop-offs taking residents to their programs which are located across the Highlands.
At a weekly meeting residents work together to develop a menu plan for the week ahead, identify the ingredients required and prepare the shopping list. Each resident takes responsibility for choosing an evening meal and then works with staff on duty to help prepare that meal. All residents are encouraged to take responsibility for household tasks like setting and clearing the table, packing and unpacking the dishwasher etc.
“We teach cooking skills, laundry skills, cleaning skills and provide residents with life skills for challenges they may encounter in the community.”
For residents with the ability to wash and dress themselves staff provide a level of oversight to ensure they are completed appropriately. Residents who require extra assistance are supported as required.
“We regularly communicate with the family of our residents to answer any questions, share information or simply to provide an update on activities. This is in addition to the direct communication residents have with their loved ones.”
“The Communication Book is a simple and effective way to ensure consistency for residents across staff shift changes and allow for the smooth and consistent operation of the home. For example if during an overnight shift a resident mentions they need more notepaper and pens it’s noted in the Book so staff on the next shift know without the resident needing to ask again.”
A quick daily check is conducted of each of the resident’s bedrooms and bathrooms to ensure they are clean and tidy and to review the need for any replenishment of personal supplies .
“Bedrooms are the personal, private space of our residents and to the best of their ability each of our residents take great pride in making their own beds and keeping their rooms smart and tidy.”
“Dadirri considers each house to be the ‘home’ of the residents so our role as staff is to assist those residents as they go about the daily activities and chores involved in running a home. For example we encourage residents organise rosters for cleaning the common living areas of the home.”
“However as House Manager I must ensure the house maintains a high standard of cleanliness so staff will help with laundry and cleaning as required depending on the individual capabilities of residents. We also help with running repairs around the property to ensure it remains safe for residents.”
“Dadirri assists residents to develop social networks in their local area to build on their confidence and social interaction skills. Where residents might encounter an obstacle the team will brainstorm ideas and try different strategies to help them reach their desired goal or outcome.”
At Oak House Dawson organises ‘Group Support Meetings’ for each resident every six months to bring together everyone involved in their care.
“We invite representatives who interact with our resident at their Day Programs as well as family members and a Dadirri staff advocate to sit together with the resident to discuss their goals for the six months ahead.
“We want to encourage and facilitate each resident to do what they love and want to do. Not what we they think they want to do. “
“It might be learning to write their name. It might be dialling and speaking on the telephone. It might be finding and securing a job. For each resident the goals will be different but with regular meetings to set clear goals and the support of everyone involved with the care of that individual we are all working together to help achieve those personal milestones.”
Each morning residents are driven to their scheduled Day Program activities. These vary for each resident each day. Dadirri residents participate in programs run by Macarthur Disability Trust and Interchange Australia.
Many residents choose to have at least one weekday simply spent ‘hanging out’ at home. The focus of staff will be on supporting and entertaining those residents as required but often residents are happy to have their own time to pursue personal interests.
In addition to those formal daily programs residents are encouraged to suggest other more informal activities they would like to explore on weekends. Dadirri staff undertake a risk assessment of those activities and notes are kept so there is an ever-changing range of activities and trips available for residents to choose from if they decide they want a weekend adventure.
“It might be a trip to the Rail Museum in Goulburn, a fishing trip or lunch at the park. Residents make the suggestions, we explore the opportunities available locally and assess whether there is appropriate parking and wheelchair access etc. We have had some great days out doing all sorts of different fun things which are all driven by the residents.
Just as is the case in every residential home in the Highlands the role of a House Manager is to keep on top of the daily chores that come with running a busy household. Those chores are essential but are managed together with a focus on spending quality time with each of the resident and supporting each resident to lead a happy, fulfilled and engaged life.
Richard says his favourite thing to do is ‘type on my laptop and go outside to do laps in my wheelchair’. He is currently writing his second book so on his days at home he spends time working on his novel. He has also started a fitness and weights regime which was prepared for him by a qualified Exercise Physiologist. Under the supervision of a staff member Richard now undertakes a series of exercises in the house gym to improve his upper body strength. With no other residents at home today there is also time for a loud music session with staff member Marty!