Focusing on the Needs of Ageing Migrants and People with Disability in Melbourne [Interview][Transcript]

Angela_Quero_Spectrum_MRCGuest: Angela Quero
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Angela Quero commenced her role as the General Manager of Spectrum MRC’s Aged and Disability Services in 2013 and in that time has overseen the successful running of many programs including the Multicultural Home Support Service, Planned Activity Groups for ageing migrants in Melbourne and social support for those living with a disability. She has a Bachelor of Behavioural Sciences as well as a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health Practice, and a rich background in residential care consulting and quality assurance in the aged care sector.

Segment overview: Angela Quero is the General Manager of Spectrum MRC’s Aged and Disability Services. They provide unique aged care services for culturally and linguistically diverse clients as well as for the general community. Their services include provision of ethno-specific planned activity groups, respite for carers and provision of in-home care. Their Aged Care Respite Programs provide support to carers to balance their employment and caring roles. They include centre based or home-based respite programs, planned activity groups, support for carers and a program for older Italians with dementia. Their pool of 200 bilingual support workers speak more than 50 languages. Workers are matched according to interests and personality of the client, as well as language and culture.

Health Professional Radio – Needs of Ageing Migrants

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and my guest today joins me from Melbourne in Australia. She’s Angela Quero, she’s the General Manager of Spectrum Migrant Resource Centers, Aged and Disability Services. Now we wanted to talk to Angela for two reasons, we talk to a lot of people in Aged and Disability Services but we thought it would be interesting to talk to someone in the migrant resource space and Angela’s our first guest in that area. Angela welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Angela Quero: Thank you Wayne. Hello, how are you?

W: I’m very well, thank you. Now it’s a pleasure to have you with us and thank you for your time. Can you fill in for us what it is that you do and what it is that Spectrum Migrant Resource Center do in the aged and disability services space? And can you also give us an idea of the where you do it, how big the geographic footprint is?

A: Sure. Spectrum MRC is located in Preston, in Melbourne, in Victoria and we generally operate in the north western suburbs of Melbourne. It has an amazing history starting off as a Migrant Resource Center 35 years ago and obviously changing over the many years and probably now, primarily has changed into what’s now an aged and disability service, although we still do quite a lot of settlement and provide settlement and family services as well to newly arrived and emerging communities. My role here at Spectrum is quite a varied role, I am the General Manager in charge of delivering aged and disability services thru a number of different programs particularly funded programs to older people and people with disabilities who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. We have a very strong focus on assisting the carers, as well of those older people and people with disabilities. Simply because we think it’s important for families who are the primary support for people from…backgrounds. So we run in a very collaborative event and co-design kind of way with families. So we work out what’s happening within the family unit and what kind of supports would best suit the individual family. So our focus is both on disability services and primarily older people. So letting older people know that their children who are now probably in their 40s, many of them in their 30s and 40s as well, can now be looked after or we would work with the families to try and ensure that whatever support is provided relevant to their family and then also, in the aged care space. We provide a lot of respite support essentially because there are a lot of carers out there who are now home-based and they don’t get the opportunity to go and look after themselves, go and set their own medical appointments or have some free time, do their banking, shopping, etc. So we’ll be the ones that send a worker, who is obviously a bi-lingual and bi-cultural worker, to the home and provide that break for the carer. On the other hand we also have a fee-for-service based service called the multi-cultural home support service, where we have hired about a hundred and eighty support workers who work across the northwest area in Melbourne. Now also in the southern suburbs, I must say, and we’re able now to provide care to about 400 clients across Melbourne who are recipients of home care packages.

W: Angela it sounds like a very big undertaking. Can you give us a sense of how big the organization is, maybe the number of staff you have or the number of clients you have? I’m just trying to share what the audience a sense of how big an organization it is.

A: Yes, our organization here is about 290 staff and we have 3 locations. So we have our offices across the northwest and we probably have in total about, close to about 600 clients in total that’s across our settlement and family services area as well as their aged care services. So what you’ll find that in a lot of our programs, we also partner with organizations to ensure that we’re being relevant in terms of the way that their own community programs are developing as well. So we run programs for nearly arrived, our parent in a new culture Program is something that we’re pushing at the moment and in our disability space we have what’s called our connect groups where we run particular groups of people, older people with disability who want to get together and make social connections. And we also have what’s called our center-based respite programs that operate in 2 locations across Melbourne where we have, every day we have a different ethnic group, a group of older people from, say the Italian community will come together and spend the day together. We’ll cook them a wonderful meal … different staff would join every day and run activities and just break the isolation, or go on outings and have genuinely a good time and that gives their carers at home a break.

W: Yes. Angela, many of our audience, in fact about 95% of our audience, are clinicians of one kind or another. We get lots of people in acute care and we get lots of people in aged care. Is there a message you’d like them to get as a result of having heard you on Health Professional Radio today?

A: Absolutely. Currently, I suppose one of the issues for us is the concept of consumer directedness and the concept of consumer directedness in terms of saying “Well what does this client want and how can they best communicate that?” In most cases an important issue to remember is that keeping the concept really simple, ensure that there is a simplified version of the information that you’re giving your clients and giving them time to make that decision. If you’re in a position with an older person where you will be needing to get a decision made very quickly, it can be incredibly overwhelming. One of the things that does frustrate me sometimes is to hear that we don’t need to know, we no longer need to ensure that information is made available in different languages and that’s just not true, simply because what we find continuously is that making information available in different formats, whether it’s a photo images, over dubbing voice in different languages, is so important, simply because there are different ways that people from non-English speaking backgrounds get information. The verbal is important but to back that up with something which is simple, Australianized version of the language is really important as well. So, for example time to translate the concept of choice and control, is really difficult if you’re talking with somebody who doesn’t really understand that from a personal perspective anyway. So if you’re an older person and you rely on your children to make the decisions for you about how you will spend your packaged care funding, asking that person without the presence of their children on how they would make that decision is almost a moot point. It’s really not going to get a true indication of what their needs are. So there are still, I think, some areas that we need to be really sensitive about, who’s available, how much time can I provide somebody to make a decision and providing the choices and the options rather, is so much more important than asking for a time frame where the information can be returned. Health literacy is continues to be an issue for people from non-English speaking backgrounds. We’re still struggling in terms of ensuring that that information is available in different languages and the use of interpreters is absolutely essential. Yes it does take longer, there is a cost involved but it will pay dividends. If we want everybody to have a say in the way that their care is being delivered, then we owe it to them to ensure that they’re able to be full participants in that kind of relationship.

W: If you just joined us, I’m in conversation with Angela Quero who’s the General Manager of Spectrum Migrant Resource Centers, Aged and Disability Services and we’ve been talking about the work done by the Migrant Resource Center and in particular, the aged and disability services. Angela when you’re thinking about the work that you do, I guess it’s a lot like every other profession and occupation around, there are misconceptions that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night. What’s the biggest misconception in your work that drive you enough and keep you awake?

A: Well, one of the things that that does concern me is whether or not we really do understand the need to ensure that people have the opportunity to stay at home, to be cared for at home. This isn’t something which is relevant, obviously only to people from non-English or … backgrounds but certainly that concept of being supported to stay at home is absolutely essential. And I’ve often wonder about how else are we going to get this message out there that Spectrum is here, that we have a number of programs that are available and how do we get that message out. So it’s important to me to try and understand what are the barriers that prevent people from knowing about our services and how else can we do it. How else can we get to people to let them know that it is an option, stay at home, it’s so important because home is where our memories are, our families are, it’s safe, I feel confident, I have my pets, etc.? The connection to home is so important in so many cultures. The concept of an institutionalized system which is provided by the state or that care can no longer be provided in the home, it’s just not relevant in so many cultures. So to have this service which is a hundred and ninety support workers speaking 50 languages is so essential and we really think that… other people deserved to be looked after by … carers. People that speak their language and understand their culture. So I often worry about why aren’t we getting people through the door and how else can we get the message across that this is an important part of that journey through our old age and I think respecting that, and ensuring that it continues to be included in our policy development, the policy direction. And it’s a priority for people to ensure that their preferences are respected, that’s what sometimes, like I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and go, “What else can we do? Have we done enough?”

W: Well, with a little bit of luck we can help extend that message a little bit today, Angela. Thank you very much for your time today, I do appreciate it.

A: Thank you so much. Thanks Wayne.

W: Now if you’ve just missed my conversation, I’ve been chatting with Angela Quero, General Manager of Spectrum Migrant Resource Centers, Aged and Disability Services and if you’d like for information you can head off to If you just head to you’ll find the links there. Also, on our website, on Health Professional Radio website, you can find a transcript of my conversation with Angela. You can also find links to an audio archive of the interview both on YouTube and on SoundCloud where you can listen to the whole thing again or if you’ve missed it the first time, you can listen to it for the first time. You’re listening to Health Professional Radio, the website’s My name is Wayne Bucklar and thank you for joining us today on Health Professional Radio.

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