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Mel loves making a difference in Melbourne’s West

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The Latin adage “Carpe Diem,”- translating to seize the day - rings true for Bolton Clarke’s West Melbourne social worker Mel Walters, who loves making a difference for clients every day.

Mel’s role includes helping people access secure housing, travelling up to 300km a day to make visits and support people to navigate the aged care system.

She says the satisfaction of helping people access services and get back on their feet is all in a day’s work.

“I often liaise with clients who have no family who can help them, so I assist them to gain the additional supports they need,” she says.

“I’ve been a social worker for over 40 years in a community setting and I love the variety, the privilege of hearing peoples’ stories and working with them to put in place preventative methods based on their preferences.

“Social workers are there to work with people - everyone is equal and entitled to respect and care.”

Mel’s duties include helping people make decisions now about future care planning, so their wishes are understood if their needs change.

“I also help make informed choices about their accomodation, elder abuse, family conflict, deal with risk management surrounding the clients’ safety at home and develop networks to find creative solutions to peoples’ issues identified at the time,” she says.

To keep clients safe and connected, Mel continued with phone consultations during COVID-19 restrictions.

“I also linked people into projects in the West like a telephone chat program and a craft group held by the Council to knit for homeless people via a charity.”

She says helping people with social issues like adequate housing in turn supports their overall health and wellbeing.

“I had a gentleman who was living in a community housing complex which had security risks for him, and he had undergone chemotherapy and treatment for cancer,” she says.

“He was completely alone in the world and we worked with him to relocate to a more secure form of shared accommodation which met his needs. Within three months he went into remission and his wellbeing was greatly improved.”

Mel has worked at Bolton Clarke for three years, supporting clients in the West from North Melbourne to Essendon, Moonee Ponds right out to Melton, Werribee and Altona Meadows.

“What do I love about the Westies? The diversity,” she says.

“We have lots of cultural groups and immigrants and mostly clients haven’t been into contact with services before. You are really making a difference.”

August 7 is Aged Care Employee Day, dedicated to saying “Thanks for Caring” to all aged care employees supporting older people across Australia.