61-year old Tom* has an ABI as a result of a stroke 20 years ago, which also resulted in right-side paralysis and has significantly affected his speech. He is currently supported by Coordinator Jo McKee and Support Workers Matt, Clinton and Arron.

* client’s name changed to protect their privacy

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Before his stroke, Tom served in the Australian Armed Forces and was a truck driver. As well as problems with speech and memory, Tom has struggled with feelings of paranoia and the frustration of not being able to communicate his thoughts effectively. Coordinator Jo said that these issues have drastically improved in the last year of Tom’s life, particularly since his move to his own home after spending several years living at a local caravan park.

As well as encouraging Tom to apply for a Department of Housing home, his team also supported him to make as many of the choices regarding the housing options for himself. Within a short period of moving to his new home, the team noticed a great improvement in his self-confidence and general wellbeing, particularly a significant reduction in feelings of paranoia.

When Support Worker Matt Pouwelsen started working with Tom two years ago, he realised that not only was he forgetting to take his medications but also experienced difficulty understanding the administration instructions when he did remember. Matt and Tom then collaborated on a unique solution – 2 medications boxes both using visual cues to help Tom differentiate day and night medications as well as a method of indicating the correct day and date which was not confusing to Tom.

Matt also created a magnetic wall calendar for Tom which holds visual cues which now assists him not only to recognise the day and date but also monitor his own appointments. These simple solutions have led to a great increase in Tom’s health and wellbeing, improved his self-esteem and his ability to manage with living independently more confidently.

Difficulty with communication has been an ongoing source of frustration for Tom, however his team have supported him in this area with great results in the past year. Tom attended Arron’s Ipad training sessions at 56 Cockburn Road and Arron and Clinton have devised a series of visual cues that he can use to text simple messages for examples symbols for “Would you like to meet up for a coffee?” or “Please send a taxi now”. The team continue to devise and trial new communications strategies to support Tom.

Service Manager Tanya Campbell is very excited by the outcomes achieved by this team in recent years. Tanya said:

It is obvious the team knows Tom well, understands how his ABI affects his life and has established a supportive and trusting relationship with him. This positive rapport has provided a solid base for the team to explore new and innovative ways to overcome some of the obstacles he faces in his day to day life. This has ultimately led to better outcomes and an improved quality of life. For someone who receives minimal support, the outcomes achieved are truly outstanding.

Photo of Support Worker, Matt

Support Worker – Matt

Click to read Matt’s profile


Kyle* is a teenager with Autism supported by CLA Support Worker Peter Green. Since Peter began working with Kyle early in 2016, his quality of life and outlook has improved beyond words. Kyle was experiencing depression, poor self-confidence, and was rarely attending school. 

* client’s name changed to protect their privacy

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Kyle’s outlook was becoming increasingly isolated. When Peter came along, he quietly began to work alongside Kyle. Peter’s gentle, kind nature, and endless positivity are simply infectious. Peter’s interpersonal skills have established a relationship with Kyle, which has completely changed his outlook on life. Peter has been able to help Kyle to see his unique capacities and has encouraged him to persevere through many of life’s struggles.

Peter made every effort to get to know Kyle’s interests and then gently began to expand his horizons. The new opportunities that have resulted from Peter’s involvement with Kyle have had a huge impact on his attitude, outlook, and self-confidence. Kyle has become more socially active, becoming involved in a whole range of new activities that he would never have considered before. Some of the new activities include fishing, sports, music, playing the guitar and cycling.

Peter has a considerate approach toward those he supports, and when he goes fishing with Kyle he always considers his choices around the best fishing spot for the day. Sometimes Kyle may not feel up to managing some of the busier fishing spots and Peter will often choose the Kalgan Bridge to fish from, as Kyle says it is a peaceful place for him, and on the hotter days, the river provides a cool breeze. During these fishing sessions, Kyle will often open up about things he finds challenging and also about general things he enjoys. This time spent with Peter is invaluable, as it has provided a safe space for Kyle to express himself openly without prejudice or judgement.

Peter has also helped Kyle to connect and build relationships with his service provider, CLA. he and Peter will often stop in to visit the staff at CLA, to say hello or play a game or two of table tennis. Peter has taught Kyle the rules and patiently offered the skills required to become a proficient table tennis player. Kyle now plays long rallies and is an excellent opponent for players of varying skill levels.

Peter has also encouraged and assisted Kyle to access community activities independently, supporting him to ease in, and helping him to make connections with others who attend. Apart from Peter’s encouragement and guidance, Kyle would have been unlikely to attend or begin to build these connections. Kyle now attends Adaptive Sports most Wednesdays, and has now played soccer there for one full season.

Kyle has told Peter that he struggles with his body image, and that he would like to improve fitness. Peter has inspired Kyle to increase his confidence for this area of his life, and shown him how to take more control over his fitness levels.

From being a teenager who was very socially isolated, Kyle now participates in a whole range of physical outdoor activities including cycling, swimming at the beach, and going for walks. This guided approach of looking at his health has reaped improvements in other areas of Kyle’s life too, as Kyle now sleeps-in less frequently and is more active and motivated about life.

Kyle struggles interacting in crowds of people, as he finds these environments overstimulating, causing anxiety. Peter has shown sensitivity around Kyle’s needs in this aspect of his life, intentionally connecting him with small groups, building Kyle’s confidence.

Peter has also encouraged Kyle to communicate with the sales assistants, and taught him how to pay for his own purchases.

In summary, the impact of Peter’s involvement with Kyle has been overwhelmingly positive. Peter also works with other young men with disabilities, achieving similar results, he is simply an inspiration.


Photo of Support Worker, Peter Green

Support Worker Peter

Click to read Peter’s Profile


The day after celebrating his 77th birthday, Albany man Bryan was knocked from his bike while holidaying in Broome.  Bryan is a keen cyclist and belongs to the over 55’s cycling club in Albany and regularly cycles 50-70 km on an average cycle.  He also hits the Mundi Biddi track on his mountain bike with friends.   [read more=”Read More” less=”Read Less”] The driver drove through a Give-Way sign, ploughing into Bryan who was knocked from his bike unconscious. Fortunately for Bryan, an off-duty ambulance happened to be passing and the Flying

Doctors were on their way to Broome airport, so he was quickly transferred to Royal Perth hospital.  Bryan was diagnosed with bleeding on the brain and a broken hip. 

When he woke and found himself in hospital, Bryan experienced memory loss, felt heavy and groggy and realised very soon that the road to recovery was going to be long and hard.  However, because of his excellent fitness levels, surgeons were able to operate on him almost immediately.   

Fortunately, the costs of his hospitalisation and recovery support were covered by his car insurance.  Bryan is a very positive person and has shown great determination to make a full recovery. 

His speedy recovery was assisted by a team of CLA Support Workers who helped Bryan particularly in the early days of his release from hospital when he was confined to a wheelchair. CLA Support Worker Fiona Jeffrey helps Bryan with housework and drives Bryan to his physiotherapy and hydrotherapy sessions. Support Worker Ray Ryder help Bryan maintain his garden until he gets back to full fitness.  

Now, a year after the accident, Bryan is almost fully recovered and still getting some support from CLA. 


Rose* is a 42-year-old woman who has an intellectual disability and suffers from extreme heightened anxiety episodes. Rose lives independently, has a boyfriend and loves all animals, especially horses and dogs. 

* client’s name changed to protect their privacy

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Rose also loves Home and Away, her family and going on holidays. Rose can find life tough, as she experiences depression and anxiety. She has historically gone through frequent periods of depression during which she can become very distraught and angry. This is triggered by her thoughts creating an almost alternative reality to the situation and envisaging the worst possible outcomes and some of these episodes have seen her hospitalised. The more Rose will dialogue about something that has upset her the more it evolves into heightened anxiety and creates extreme distress for her.

Support Worker Kelly Hewitt has made a significant contribution to the quality of Rose’s life and this can be evidenced over the last seven months that Kelly has been working alongside Rose. During this time, Rose’s episodes have reduced significantly making life much more enjoyable and fulfilling for her.

Kelly has a natural ability to aid Rose to be able to talk through her distress without creating an imagined reality. She remains positive and can help her to find a solution rather than focus on the negative.

An example of this is that recently Kelly arrived at Rose’s house to find her in tears crying uncontrollably. Kelly gently asked her what was making her cry and by allowing Rose to openly talk about what was causing this distress and by really listening to, and showing consideration for Rose’s emotions she was able to help calm her down as Rose felt she was being heard and validated.

Kelly then suggested that to help her find a solution to the situation they could together go and see Rose’s service co-ordinator to discuss the situation. Kelly explained to Rose that by doing this they could report the issue so that something could be done to prevent it occurring again. This action helped to alleviate Rose’s very real distress as she was now focused on the solution.

In the past Rose’s heightened anxiety and extreme distress over situations like this that she felt no control over could have seen her escalate enough to require hospital admission. Because of the simple yet effective actions that Kelly took, Rose was able to let the situation go enough to change her focus and look forward to the rest of the day’s activities. In the past, these episodes could have created a depressed state of mind for days on end.

Kelly has introduced Rose to new ideas, places, people and experiences. These are all helping to keep Rose active and engaged with her local community which in turn has lessened her periods of depression and episodes of anxiety.
Rose has stated that “Kelly has been able to boost my spirits like no other person. She helps me like no others. She has done this by getting to know me and getting me to try new places and things to do. Her energy is infectious and sunny. She is a great listener and she is good at getting me to open up so that I don’t stew on things”.

Rose also said “altogether I am glad that Kelly has become a very special part of my life. Kelly is a special support worker to me and always will be”

Rose nominated Kelly for the Support Worker of the Year Award in 2018.

Click to read Kelly’s Profile


Support Worker Delma has supported Katy*, a client with severe autism for ten years. Delma recently shared how she and her team, under the direction of Coordinator Fran Fehrman, deal with Katy’s challenging behaviours.

* client’s name changed to protect their privacy

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Delma said, “Katy exhibits a range of challenging behaviours from self-harm including biting herself to aggression towards support staff including hitting and hair pulling.  Sometimes there is very little warning but normally we can tell by changes to her body language, for example she will repeatedly move her arm towards her mouth with intent to bite herself or stamp her foot.

In order to work out the source of her frustration we ask questions but if the behaviour rapidly escalates, we attempt to distract her.  If this doesn’t work, the team is advised to adopt an assertive posture and tone and ask Katy to go to her room.  In the event that Katy starts throwing things or attempting to hit the support workers, we ask staff to lock the external exits and internal cupboards and go into the support room.  Usually, within 10 to 15 minutes in the absence of external stimulation, Katy calms herself and staff then return to the situation to help resolve her frustration.

During this time when Katy is in her room she will talk to herself in the mirror and this has a very calming effect on her.  Usually we can tell if the behaviour is from overstimulation for example if Katy has been out and about a lot and has not had enough time to process the external stimuli.   Other times, she is in pain which is usually caused by the side effects of her prescribed medication.

After an episode where she has been angry or violent towards me or one of the support workers, Katy will often want to hug us. She is very affectionate by nature and enjoys a good relationship with the women on her team.

We try to decrease anxiety in her life as much as possible by utilising what we call a ‘base routine’.  This gives a basic structure to the day for activities such as showering and eating but leaves enough flexibility to decide on activities depending on Katy’s mood or health issues.   Anxiety can arise over changes to the routine and are quite noticeable around shift changeover times. We try to give advance warning about changes and explain what is going to happen.

Communication within the team is crucial as it’s very important to chart what she has eaten, her outings and her bowel movements.  Knowing what has gone before can help support staff determine what triggers any frustration or challenging behaviours she may exhibit.

Katy has made great strides in the ten years she has been supported by CLA.  I have supported her during  this whole period and her confidence and independence have grown significantly.  Her aggressive episodes have decreased significantly and now, living independently, she loves to cook and is able to do her own laundry and some housework.  She also loves to attend sports group and other CLA activities.”

By Support Worker Delma

Photo of Support worker Delma who supports one of our Autism Customers Katy* (* in the interest of privacy, the subject's name has been changed)

Support worker Delma

Click to read Delma’s Profile