cheerful senior mother and adult daughter using smartphone together

Behaviour Support, Therapy, NDIS, Disability, Covid-19, Vaccination and Future Planning

Given all focus right now on Covid-19 lock downs in New South Wales, we offer this update on our services for NDIS participants and others seeking private therapy and counselling support.

While we are a small team of two senior and doctoral qualified specialists our clients come to us from regional NSW and from other states and territories in Australia. Our practice is kept small to keep our contact direct with those who wish to form relationships of support within their community, family, and service context.

We will both be fully vaccinated within the next month period, all going well. Our choice to take the vaccines is personal as well as familial and social.

We will not however be opening up to in person work anytime soon due to the ongoing risks of transmission for and among fully vaccinated people as shown and proven by overseas experience and science. Under the strain of the delta variant the overseas reality shows that even at 80 to 90% of population vaccination the health systems will be heavily impacted as it appears that non-vaccinated person’s infection rates have at least doubled. Other issues arise in the patterns of risks among those who are fully vaccinated that raise ongoing cautions.

While clearly vaccination vastly improves the chances of not having life threatening disease and death, the data is showing that fully vaccinated people can be carriers and spread the delta variant and they can have break through infections. People who are vaccinated can sustain short or long forms of covid symptoms. Indeed, other concerning variants are spreading around the world that are not currently in the Australian press. Terribly concerning, premature, and very disconcerting to people’s actual coping mechanisms to hear promises from leaders around opening up including for international travel. These issues including the misguided judgement of leaders make it more or less a permanent reality that health and social safety issues will influence our pathways forward for many years to come.

While from March of 2020 our work has fully transitioned into telehealth online services and we have created as maximal safety as possible in our individual practices of social isolation and contact management, one would hope that life might return to so-called normal… eventually…

How much it seems that it is just wishful thinking to keep the sentiment “return to normal.”

For me it is literally 22 months since the international concerns raised alarm bells during Christmas of 2019 and new years 2020. We remember discussing the situation in China and looking up the history of viral lab based research there and in North America, and having an early debate on Facebook where comments were made at how potentially racist it was to raise questions about a lab leak to which others rightly replied this could just as easily happen anywhere and how is the discussion in any way race related except by the person who used those words in accusation toward someone else who was simply discussing a reality that any scientific practitioner would wish to discuss. We had little idea how rampant and widespread these kinds of impressions and the trends that followed would become…

From the earliest days it did not seem unreasonable that human error was involved one way or other whether this is attached to a lab leak or to the knee jerk responses of authorities in the early days of spread. While the current public knowledge on viral origins remains patchy, the notion that human error created the pandemic is actually 100% conclusive.

The importance of this insight around human error rests with the fact of how governments and medical authorities advising governments continue to make critical errors that continue to not only help the viral spread but also to intensify and layer the adjustment disorders that are impacting whole societies. These include greater vulnerability to mental health disorders, joblessness, hopelessness, poverty, and social unrest.

Part and parcel of these trends is the historical repeat of patterns and contexts that lead to the increased power of police and military agencies. While changes to functional capacity to intervene by authorities may be needed in crisis mode, these powers can very easily become a new normal of another kind, and this can often lead to abuse of power for other reasons. Lock downs and how these are managed, and how democratic freedoms are viewed and perspectives changed during an extended health crisis and social security situation are critically important issues to keep at the forefront of both political and health systems.

In Australia, we have a global pattern that so far has been ahead of several curves that allows a looking glass to project what is coming down the pike. As a Canadian colleague commented about the choices of the Australian governments both federal and state, why is it that governments seem to insist on making the same mistakes when the lessons are already learned by other countries? Especially in a viral spread that is being studied by science and that provides almost identical challenges wherever the variants spread?

While government leaders seem to be talking about coming out of restrictions, and yet again providing the population with ideas that may prove counterproductive to mental health and coping with the economic and real life fall outs of harsh realities that we are all facing, we are deeply concerned about the deteriorating state of affairs across the helping professions and we include medicine, nursing, mental health, and disability services. But we are particularly concerned about the latter two poor and poorest cousins that are so often kept at arms length in both policy and practice.

As one astute researcher commented, the disability sector was in crisis over the past decade and long before covid emerged. The shifts so poorly managed from block funding to individual based funds created a major challenge that has actually not transitioned well for many providers as the recent demise of one major agency clearly highlights. We are also not convinced that quality and better governance actually follows the changes made so far and many of our colleagues across the sector, and including in health and mental health, have expressed major concerns arising in the NDIS system.

One of our primary concerns is the complete personalisation as well as completely unrealistic corporatisation of the need for training and capacity building that has seen whole cohorts of disability support workers receive near to zero support since the beginning of this new scheme. Individuals do not want to even get a TAFE certificate to work in disabilities because adequate pay and job security are non-existent. Providers simply cannot afford adequate training. Good heavens, they can not even afford to pay team leaders and managers because in reality the system does not address these overheads. While on one hand the crunch of standards and requirements has increased leading to a near complete decrease in referrals for clinical help from disability accommodation providers, on the other hand behaviour support standards for the implementation of daily support practices has been missing and we wonder whether this will ever reappear in the funding model.

Suffice it to say that we continue to offer assessment and therapy capacity building services to people who find us from across Australia. Whether this be in any state or territory we tend to focus on very high quality and senior assessment and therapeutic support. Our emphasis on complex cases sees us address some of the highest needs cases over the years, often leading to innovation of support models. To these ends we look at the ecological reality of situations and often need to address shortfalls in organisational and systems support. These efforts see us often working closely with CEOs and senior executives towards finding solutions that work in the context and for the individual and family in question.

We work closely with parents and often many single mothers with children with Autism and special needs. Our practice while having that complex layer of support described above, has transitioned to this place where we are actively sought out by mothers in need. Our roles are to empower parents to understand and manage their children’s care and development. This is often a very rewarding experience for all concerned.

To get in touch go to our contact page and send a line. We look forward to hearing from you. All the best to you and yours.

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