Friday 7 August is Aged Care Employee Day. To celebrate, read the profile below about Sylvi, one of our aged care support workers and a great example of the wonderful people we have working at Communify.

Sylvi Delaney didn’t start out listing “aged care support worker” as a preferred occupation, but rather was led to the job by a series of life choices – and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her 20 years in the aged care industry, the last seven with Communify, have led her to take charge of the exercise programs, and she is constantly dreaming up new and innovative ways to do it better.

“Getting to this point is a dream fulfilled for me,” she says. “There have been so many steps on the path to where I am now. I have worked through all the stages and I absolutely love what I do.”

While her official title is support worker, she does much more than that, from taking group exercise classes at the respite centre to tai-chi and chair yoga. She is also quick to come up with new schemes. When one group class expressed an interest in line dancing, for example, she watched some YouTube videos to learn the steps, modified them to suit her class, and “off we go”. She makes it sound so simple.

Sylvi’s first job was in an office “shuffling papers” and later as a supervisor at a call centre, but she found it wasn’t fulfilling so took some time out and completed a hospitality course.

“I worked in a few restaurants and then I saw a story about helping elderly people in their home,” she says. “I thought it was such a lovely thing to do so I looked into it and decided that what I really wanted to do was to help people be comfortable at home.”

Her next step was branching out of cooking and into different areas of home assistance for seniors. She was working in the kitchen at Communify when she saw a full-time support worker position become available and jumped at the chance. That was four years ago.

“The occupational therapist was passionate about the exercise program and so I followed her lead, studied for my Certificate 3 in fitness and ran the classes,” she says. “Exercise is my passion. I love it myself and wanted to bring that to my clients. It is so beneficial for them as it not only keeps them mobile but can help prevent falls,” Sylvi says.

She has now stepped back from her support worker role to focus more on exercise programs.

“I am still supporting clients but in a different way,” she says. “Rather than taking them to the toilet I am helping them get strong enough to get off the toilet by themselves.”

Monday is gentle exercise, Tuesday chair yoga, Thursday tai-chi and before the Covid lockdowns, she was running group classes at the Kenmore Uniting Church and Keperra Sanctuary and helping some clients with their physio at home. These days she has adjusted her classes so she can conduct them by Zoom, helping five to 10 clients at a time and giving them the confidence to go online.

“I really enjoy bringing exercises to clients and seeing them reap the benefits,” she says. “They can get out of their chair more easily, reach up more often and realise the benefits of exercise on a regular basis.”

Sylvi says the key is to keep the sessions light and make exercise fun with singing and laughter.

“I absolutely love what I do and am so grateful,” she says. “I like it that I can serve the community and make a difference in their lives. I just love seeing them smile.”

Please note, our day respite centre will close temporarily from 6 August 2020, moving back to online/virtual activities and support, due to the increased risk posed by new COVID-19 cases in Brisbane.