We’d are excited to introduce the hospice’s first ever occupational therapist, Leo Gnavi.
Leo has held positions at The Centre for Cerebral Palsy (WA), The Cerebral Palsy League (QLD), Nauru Regional Processing Centre, Noah’s Ark Inc (Vic) and he also works part-time at Vision Australia when he’s not at the hospice.
For those not familiar with occupational therapy in a children’s hospice setting, Leo explains; “Occupational therapy is essential in promoting participation in meaningful life activities such as play and access to technology. As an occupational therapist, I provide a holistic and client-centred approach that fosters a sense of independence and self-efficacy amidst the challenges faced by children living with symptoms that can be debilitating,”.
Leo says; “I want to provide opportunities for children where they can actively participate in meaningful, fun activities. I endeavour to increase children’s levels of independence and improve their quality of life,”.
Welcome to the team, Leo!
Christine spent more than 30 years working in hospitals as a cardiac technologist, so when she retired, she knew exactly where she wanted to volunteer – Very Special Kids.
She has a son with a disability, and the nurturer in her wanted to keep caring for kids, and that’s when she signed up to become a family support volunteer seven years ago.
Christine was placed with a newly arrived Korean family, who spoke little English. She was matched with the family to support their eldest son, who was two at the time, and whose little sister had an abnormal brain disorder.
“They had no family support in Australia and my role was really to help support this little boy in any way I could to ease some of the load on mum. I helped him to learn English, and because he’s a smart little guy, he learned it really rapidly. I love teaching, so I also helped him with learning and physical development in the areas I identified that needed help,” she said.
Christine would spend around two to three hours in the family home, which has also enabled mum to go back to the thing she loves – teaching piano.
“Although my role was to look after a particular child, I see myself as a support for the whole family. The key to it working is to be non-judgmental and to follow their lead in what they need. It’s obviously worked because I’ve now been with this family for seven years and I just adore them,” Christine said.
Christine also adds the structure of the volunteer program at Very Special Kids is what makes it so successful.
“I just love that it really is a community. The training is very comprehensive, and I just feel so supported – I constantly have my allocated family support practitioner, Damienne, and volunteer coordinator, Nathan, checking in on me. Even through the pandemic, they continue to keep in touch. It’s been wonderful,” she said.