Growing A Disability Service Not-For-Profit Whilst Homeschooling Is Possible
When her sister became overloaded with paperwork at her job at 'Empowered To Care', Vanessa Shambrook stepped in to help.
The role afforded flexibility, says Vanessa: “I am a Mum. One of my children is autistic, and I tried to homeschool him and one of his older brothers. I could work from home, I could work around the kids, and just basically work when I could. It started off as a volunteer role. Then it was 10 hours a week which turned into most days [laughs].”
As the Contracting and Engagement Officer at 'Empowered To Care', Vanessa helps to connect support workers with 140 participants across Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba.
The not-for-profit is not only all about the participants but the support workers too: “We try to make sure everyone is looked after and happy. It's not about the money, it's about the people.”
Before December 2019, Empowered To Care operated for six years on pencils and paper.
“There were bits of information everywhere, rather than all in one place. And information wasn’t shared with the right people. That was really difficult. That was the hardest part,” says Vanessa.
The business needed to operate on an online software platform that was specifically dedicated to their industry. In came ShiftCare.
Vanessa’s big and exciting task? To integrate ShiftCare into everything they do, ensuring that they were making the most out of the platform.
ShiftCare has kept us sane because all the information we need is there. It's all in one place. It's a lot easier to find information
“I found it really easy to pick up. And if I had any issue, I'd email the support team, and it was easily fixed,” she says. “They’ve always explained it in a way that makes sense to me. There's a lot of that computer talk that I don't understand – those things I kind of tune out, but most of it is easy to understand.”
Things at 'Empowered To Care' were looking bright.
A tonne of features
“ShiftCare has kept us sane because all the information we need is there. It's all in one place. It's a lot easier to find information” says Vanessa, adding, “It's not just storing documents. There's a lot of different features in there. That’s my favourite part about it.”
The possibilities seem endless: creating profiles for each contractor, saving client records for participants, customising document templates, granting levels of document access for different people, and compliance. “To know if someone's compliant with the NDIS or if this participant has this documentation, we rely on ShiftCare to tell us that information.”
Stronger, faster, easier
Using ShiftCare’s geolocalisation map that pins people’s whereabouts, Vanessa feels comforted knowing where everyone is with just a few clicks: “We cover a huge area, and it makes it easier when we can see exactly where the support workers are.”
The map also helps to save time matching people: “Sometimes, people live in a place that I haven't heard of. To use the geolocation on that and find their closest support workers instead of Googling where places and people are makes it a whole lot easier.”
“Then you've got the reporting side of it. Verifying shifts, making sure that they're correct. In the right price books, and doing the reports on those.”
Collaboration is more straight-forward too, the team are now quicker at solving anything that may arise: “Someone will ask a question, and you can say to them, ‘Go into ShiftCare, have a look at this’ and they can see the same thing you're seeing.”
Anchored into ShiftCare, Empowered To Care was able to flourish.
“When I joined up, and then the six months after that – it was a lot, it was like 600%, then it slowed down because we were all at capacity,” she says. And as people come and go, Vanessa can easily add or archive them as needed.
A growing business comes with more systems and processes thus demanding more features, and ShiftCare – just one platform – continues to meet Empowered To Care’s needs: “It's kept up with us – we haven't needed to solve something somewhere else.”
“I don’t think we could do it without ShiftCare”, she says. “It’s always on. It’s always in the background. I’m never not using it. Except on the weekend sometimes [laughs]. We refer to it constantly.”
Still, thankfully for Vanessa: “We're not stuck in an office, we all work from home.”
Prior to this, Vanessa had never worked in this kind of role. It had also been a long time since going full swing into corporate work. Today, Vanessa has found her happy place, balancing it all with homeschooling. “It’s busy, but I like it busy!”
So, what’s next for Empowered to Care? They’ve earned a spike in growth. They’ve smoothened out systems and processes. And they’re getting a healthy amount of word-of-mouth referrals. What’s most exciting for the team is going to be “the usual”: helping people and finding ways to do it better.