Hazel O’Toole is our Senior Project Officer with the Home Care Check-in (HCCI) service who began work with us in 2018.
During this time, as well as being one of our professional Advocates and a team leader, she’s taken on a number of ground-breaking roles as Advocare’s grown over the last few years. Hazel’s also supported her Victorian counterparts when the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 hit Australia’s residential aged care sector; and delivered the successful ‘Rural Diversity Project’ that’s opened the door to more support in the regions for older people, especially Aboriginal people.
In 2021 Advocare was successful in its expression of interest to manage and run a new pilot project called the Home Care Check-in Service. Supported by her two dedicated team members, Hazel presently manages this service that’s now up and running at top speed through to June 2025.
Newsbites asked Hazel to talk about her new project and role, and how she’s finding it after the first 12 months.
What’s the best part about your role?
I feel it’s the variety and using creative thinking to build and deliver the best possible supports to older people who are experiencing some of the most complex issues and might otherwise be overlooked, forgotten or may fall through the cracks.
The feedback and gratitude expressed by the clients we support is overwhelming, and we can see and hear our team is making real positive impacts on the lives of older people. I feel very lucky to have a team of Community Support Advocates with such a passion for supporting people through, what is sometimes, the most difficult or isolating times in their lives.
What’s the most challenging part of your role?
For me it’s the impact of seeing and hearing from people either in person or through the case studies presented to the team, about the circumstances that got them to where they are today. Almost all of the people we assist have experienced trauma and still live with the effects today, which can have a significant influence on so many areas of their lives. This can mean they might not be living as their best selves or be at a higher risk of experiencing harm.
I’m pleased to say that the HCCI service project acknowledges that working with people in complex circumstances increases the risk to staff of experiencing vicarious trauma. We’ve provided training in the area of vicarious trauma response and awareness and also implemented regular clinical supervision for all of the Community Support Advocates to access for the duration of the project.
What have you found the most surprising or inspirational?
I have found it’s the ignition of hope for the people we meet, the real tangible change and connections created for people have a profound impact on how they are living their lives in a more connected and meaningful way, which decreases their risk.
What’s a perfect day for you, Hazel?
A perfect day for me is any day we can make a positive difference for the people we support.
Contact us to find out more about the program at: HCCI@advocare.org.au
Advocare’s proud to deliver the Home Care Check-in service to older Western Australians. The service is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care and delivered through the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) as a pilot program until June 2025.
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