An annecto service more in demand with each passing year is After-Hours. Operating from 5pm through to 9am on weekdays and 24 hours a day on the weekend and public holidays, the After-Hours Team provides non-medical support to annecto clients, other support agencies and the public, and has been doing so for over 20 years. While it’s mostly telephone support, they can also arrange for support staff to visit clients in their homes if required.
After-Hours Coordinator Nick Barta explains that they provide after-hours support to 22 external support organisations on top of internal requirements, and that can be quite involved. “We make sure we adhere to each separate organisation’s own guidelines and ensure that the handover from a provider to the After-Hours Team is seamless,” says Nick. They aim to resolve every inquiry and respond to every emergency.
The team are also set to provide more support to individuals needing peace of mind while they plan supports. These new services will be rolling out in 2017.
The team operates out of annecto’s Footscray office and support is always just a telephone call away.
It’s no surprise then to hear that the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the busiest time for the team, given that the majority of support services are closed during that time. “Come December 23, when everyone else is winding down, we’re winding up,” says Nick. The team are prepared and ready by looking at previous years’ trends and recorded calls.
Around 60% of the calls are related to aged care, and less for people with disability, and Shift or support worker cancellations that need to be rescheduled, and as you’d imagine, most of the calls are about high-care needs.
That makes the After-Hours Team’s work even more important. “Between Christmas and New Year, we received 1,700 calls,” he says. “That’s a busy service.”
The team take their duty of care seriously and personally; providing the best support they can for both the clients and the providers they’re caretaking.
“The team has to be good at multitasking,” Nick explains. “Often they’ll be dealing with 10 different databases and operating systems, and at any one time, can be juggling several clients and negotiating databases. That’s a significant level of service.”
Normally on a weeknight, there are three Assistance Response Officers taking calls, one will manage the calls overnight, and then four in the morning. Over Christmas, there were 6-10 Assistance Response Officers available, according to demand.
After-Hours staff come from a variety of backgrounds, including customer service call centres and people with personal carer experience. It’s a nice balance of telephone and health/carer sector skills.” says Nick.
So what’s the greatest challenge for the After-Hours team? “Organising shift replacements,” answers Nick. And what’s the most rewarding part of the job? “Taking on complex situations and achieving a positive result for the person and ensuring the organisations we support know their clients are in safe hands.”
The word is spreading with enquiries for the annecto After-Hours service now coming from Queensland and Western Australia.
The team is flexible, committed, and show a large level of empathy, which is one of its strengths. After all, it’s about supporting and connecting people, and as Nick concludes, it’s not a transactional job.