The disability sector has experienced much change over the last decade, and it continues to evolve. The transition to NDIS has been fraught with challenges, yet an approach that puts the individual first is one I wholeheartedly support.
With so many challenges facing this emerging system, I continue to ask, ‘how do we as businesses and organisations best support people to navigate it?’
To me, those most suited to do this well are the ones who have struck a balance between the head and the heart.
Nearly 18 years ago, when my corporate career concluded, I was able to connect more strongly with my personal values and deeper purpose – or what I would call connecting with my heart – and I was attracted to aged care and disability. Seeing the social injustice these people experienced lit a fire inside of me. I couldn’t understand why people with disability, older people, and their carers weren’t able to fully live as good a life as the rest of us. Why hadn’t we made it as easy as possible to enable each person to participate equally in society? I asked, ‘what can I do to make it better?’
And so, I set out to make a difference and ‘put a small dent in the universe’. I entered the world of Not-for-Profit (NFP) because I saw an opportunity to contribute my business skills – or my head – to a largely heart-led sector. I believed that balancing the heart and the head would help organisations become more sustainable and arguably, more focussed on the people they support.
The years I spent in the NFP sector were rich with learning. I was inspired by the genuine commitment teams had to supporting people to live a good life. The vast majority were deeply led by their heart and I loved it. And yet, my suggestion to bring in the head, by implementing stronger business practices like marketing and financial practices that led to surpluses to enable us to grow, was often met with resistance.
In time I realised I needed to find another way to create a balanced head and heart culture that supports people with disability – and their carers – to live a good life. And when the opportunity came along to start Care Support Network, which offers Pre-Planning, Plan Management and Support Coordination for people with disability, I jumped in with both feet.
So, what does a business that has struck a balance between the head and heart look like?
It’s a business that is strongly connected – and led – by its values. One that puts purpose over profit but recognises the importance profit plays in enabling us to stay in business and grow our team so we may support even more people.
It’s a business that puts the people we support – our clients – first, always. For us, we believe that by being dependable, personable and positive, we can build relationships with our clients that will best help them navigate this tricky NDIS space. And ultimately, what I have seen time and time again, is if we put our clients first above all else, the dollars will take care of themselves.
That’s why Care Support Network is working so well. We have recruited a team of people who embrace and live our values too – making it so easy to share our message of who we are and know that the service we provide will reflect the deep values that drive this business. And I am able to utilise all of the business skills I honed while in the corporate sector to keep the business on track so we can continue to support more people with disability and their carers.
I get up every morning and feel gratitude for the opportunity to build a business that makes a difference. Care Support Network gives jobs to very good people, who live Care Support Network’s values and genuinely walk alongside our clients to navigate their NDIS funding packages so they can lead a good life too.
We’re a business with meaning and purpose, who makes an impact on the lives of people who have struggled for so many years to get the support they need and deserve – and we’re doing it in such a way that we can remain sustainable and grow.
That is what striking a balance between the head and heart looks like for a business in the disability sector. And it’s truly a privilege to be a part of it.