It’s rare to find a person who has not only worked at the same company for years, but can also say they still genuinely look forward to coming to work every day. After 15 years building her career in the disability space with VMCH, Pam Tapia is living proof that job satisfaction and career progression can make this possible.
Over time, Pam’s role with VMCH evolved, allowing her to grow and develop her skills. It was also flexible, adapting to her changing life needs from shift work to a standard workday. Now an experienced Band 2 Disability Support worker, Pam shares what it takes to flourish in the industry she loves.
“When I started working for VMCH, I had no previous experience working in disability services. I went to an open night at VMCH Kew, initially to support a friend who was interested in getting into the industry. I liked what I saw, so decided to apply for a job too. As it turned out, I got the role and my friend didn’t!
“My role initially began in at-home care. I would visit clients in their houses, help them get washed and dressed; assist them with making meals or getting ready for school. That gave me some experience and groundwork in care work, as well as professionally interacting with people who had a disability for the first time – and I enjoyed it.
“After a while, I branched out to include respite in my portfolio, helping to run camps and trips away at the weekend and in the school holidays. It was a joy to share these moments with the kids. Wanting to experience more, I branched out to work in one of our respite houses in Wheeler’s Hill. Working full time with children was amazing and I enjoyed it immensely.
“After a while, I needed a break from the shift work. Responding to my needs, my flexible career with VMCH provided that opportunity. Which takes me to my current role where I work in day placements, splitting my time between VMCH Mount Waverley and Wantirna.
“A regular workday involves attending to staffing, transport and general administration, whether clients are venturing out into the community, or staying on site. I’ll then be out onto the floor to lead a mid-morning activity. Today it’s Book Club. We select a book to read together; sometimes it’s a story that I read, other times it’s an audio book. Then we may do an activity on the themes that emerge. After that it’s packing up time, then it’s time to say goodbye to the clients and coordinate the taxi run. Finally, it’s back into the office for some more paperwork to round off the day’s activities.
“My favourite bit about my job is definitely interacting with our clients. Strong bonds develop; we share experiences and spend many hours together. Contributing to a client’s development or confidence is such a precious thing. I love thinking back on some of the conversations we’ve had.
“Of course, it takes time to develop these strong connections and often communication can be one of the biggest challenges. There aren’t many behaviours I haven’t seen. When you take the time and really think of ways to work around an issue, it is easier to break through. There are so many options to build the rapport; music, movies, props or visual aids – but it’s mostly about being patient and investing time.
“15 years at VMCH has given me the opportunity to progress and grow a career on my terms, across the many facets of the industry. I’ve even taken on the role to share my expertise providing coaching and mentoring to our staff, which I really enjoy.
“Working in disability is not something everyone can do. You need to be open minded and have a lot of patience and tolerance. I love what I do. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. My time at VMCH has offered great experiences and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Here’s to another 15 years!