People who offer support to NDIS Participants are key to the success of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and often it can be difficult for some participants to find the support they desire. Reliability and knowledge of the space are some of the most desirable traits in a carer or provider.
With that in mind, we’d like to introduce you to a support provider who lives the NDIS – Liam Goldfinch from Ability2Connect. Liam was diagnosed as having Cerebral Palsy at a very young age, but that hasn’t stopped him starting his own business offering support to those who need it.
Take some time to get to know this young man who is changing the way many think about disability support providers …
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Liam! Please tell us a little about yourself:
I am Liam Goldfinch from Happy Valley in South Australia.
Things I’m into are … IT, hanging out with friends and going to the movies or the beach with them, listening to music, going away for the weekend with my respite provider or with family, watching Netflix and playing video games.
Can you tell us your story in brief? (from your diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy to today)
I was born a month earlier than expected, I was meant to be born on Australia Day but came along on Christmas Day. Neither myself or my mum were meant to survive the day, but we did. A few months later we were told that I would not be able to walk, talk, sit or crawl, but now I have beaten the odds against that theory, with a lot of therapy and my family pushing me hard from a very young age and I am grateful that they did otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I attend a mainstream primary school, which my brothers attended, and I attended a mainstream high school with a disability unit included. It was a fight to get me into both of these schools. I could not attend any of the local high schools that my friends attended due to the lack of support, but I eventually went to Unley High where I didn’t know anyone – I particularly missed my best friend from primary school. I went through a tough first year as I got bullied a lot which caused me to not do my best with schoolwork, so I repeated year 8 and for the rest of my schooling it was good and met so many new friends and made a new best friend.
During my life I have been in the media a lot in doing promotions for different organisations. In 2016 I had a documentary done about me by Cara for the Focus of Ability Film Festival (https://www.focusonability.com.au/), the film came in the top 5 in Australia and got the honour to go to Sydney with my team to the awards night.
I used to play Boccia, which is a Paralympic sport, and was in the state squad for 5 years and completed in the Nationals in Sydney.
During school I did a Vocational education course in both Certificate II and III in Information, Digital Media and Technology. After completing school, I went to Flinders University to do an education degree, but I was told that is would be impossible for me to complete due to my speech, I was then going to do an IT degree, but decided against it.
Last year, I did Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) at MADEC Australia, but I didn’t complete it due to not able to find placement. Unfortunately they didn’t help me enough to find a placement, so I had to do it myself. The lack of resources I was given to complete assessments also made it difficult, but just before Christmas 2019 I completed the NEIS Program, which assisted me to start my own disability service provider business.
Now I am redoing my Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) at TAFE SA in the Adelaide CBD and now currently, I have one client in my business, that I support on a weekly basis with community access and support.
As the NDIS rollout begins to finalise around the country and reflecting back on when the NDIS was announced, what has been your journey both as a participant and now to becoming a provider?
As a participant, the rollout of NDIS was exiting for me as it would of give me more choice and control over my life and who I use for support, as pre-NDIS you were told who you supports were and that you had to use them or get no support at all – a welcome change. IT was the same with getting equipment / assistive technology in that you had to use a certain support or get nothing. I chose to become a provider and to provide support to other people with a disability – I am a caring young man and I just want to give back to the community!
What advice would you share with other participants navigating the NDIS, and specifically is there anything you would say to others with Cerebral Palsy with the NDIS in mind?
For participants navigating the NDIS, the system looks difficult and complex at first, but if you get a LAC and/or Support Coordinator and they spend time with you to explain your plan clearly then you’ll certainly be able to fully understand it.
Setting your short, medium and long-terms goals can help you understand where you want to end up in life while also helping with getting more funding for the on-going support you need. Additionally, establishing a good support team made up of your Support Coordination, Physio, OT and support workers to meet up regularly as a team to discuss new ideas, what is working well and what isn’t and implement that for the future.
Starting your own business is no easy feat, but we’d imagine you had your own set of challenges creating Ability2Connect – can you describe the process of getting started?
As said above I did a 4-week intensive program called NEIS, it’s an Australian Government program, where I was taught how to run a business, write a business plan and financial plan. From then about 2 weeks later I started operating my business (literally the day after Christmas!). Through the first few months of operating I had to get so much done – things like get insurance, write up policies and forms plus setting up email, the website and social media which all took a while. I have promoted my services to people who know me including my high school, to establish connections with others and be promoted on multiple websites. I now have a client via a referral and so far we’re both very happy with our arrangement!
What kind of support do you provide to your participants, and what does that entail (in some detail)?
I am a support worker, and I provide home and community support to participants which could entail the following:
- Assistance with personal care
- Mealtime Assistance
- Provide in-home care assistance
- Help with morning and evening routines
- Medical Prompts
- Meal Preparation
- Assist with getting out into the community
- Support to get out to do Recreation Activities
- Attend Events/Gatherings
- Attend Appointments
- Provide therapy assistance
- Provide Assistance in Therapy Sessions
- Assist with Therapy Needs outside sessions
- Provide tutoring or mentoring
- Provide Assistance with Homework
- Assist with improving daily life skills and life skill development
- Teach Important Life Skills
- Improve on Skills e.g. cooking or doing the washing
We understand your NDIS Plan is self managed, why have you chosen to take this path with your NDIS Plan? (Advantages / disadvantages / parallels with Plan Managed)
Yes, that’s right my plan is self-managed and I chose this management type, so I have full control over what services that I am receiving and see to keep an eye on what I am spending. Because I came from the old system, where you didn’t get control of your supports, therefore I wanted to get full control of my life and needs.
I am very organised and good at keeping track of everything. My mum started self-managing my plan as she is an accountant, then she stepped back and now I do it all, from organising appointments and support to claiming from the portal and paying providers. As I understand it, Plan Managers take care of all of that if you’re not self managed.
This is where you plug Ability2Connect … Give us the Ability2Connect elevator pitch, and tell our audience how to get in touch with you if your service sounds right for them!
The core values of my service are to provide reliable services and to follow up with client’s needs in a timely manner. My intention is to relieve the frustration of not having reliable and properly trained support workers.
I like to think that my service will be different to any other, as I am also a participant of the NDIS. I have excellent knowledge of what support workers can and cannot do and have personally experienced support workers that are not reliable in supporting their clients, which motivates me to be the opposite.
Being aware of this, I will always ensure that I am prompt with clients’ needs and requests and reliable in supporting my clients at all times.
I have been described by others as being a very friendly and professional young man and that I am extremely caring, which contribute to me being completely capable of being a support worker. I know first-hand what it’s like to live with a disability. I see this as a strength and as such have a unique level of experience and empathy for those I support.
If you want more information, please email me, or take a look at my website: https://ability2connect.org.au/
Thanks so much for your time Liam, we look forward to following your story as your business grows!
NDSP Plan Managers are a NDIS registered provider specialising in NDIS Plan Management. If you are a NDIS Participant looking for the right Plan Manager, CLICK HERE to get in touch with our friendly team today.